Kathryn Braund: Actor, Dog Trainer, Author

By SUZANNE WARING

People living for 97 years have time for several careers. Kathryn Braund, who has reached that milestone, has had three solid careers and several minor ones, and she is still focused and busy as a writer.

An Early Start on Her Career Path

Braund grew up in San Francisco where she learned through the YMCA to write and act in plays. From that experience, she decided she wanted to become an actress.

When she was 16, she got into radio and started writing radio scripts.

In 1938 at the age of 18, she went to New York to pursue her first career as an actress. She was a beautiful, willowy 5-foot-10 woman with a background in radio. She soon found work.

In one play, she had the supporting role to actress Zasu Pitts and went on tour. Their first performance was in Great Falls, Mont., in the middle of the winter.

“Having grown up in San Francisco,” said Braund, “I was mesmerized with the snow so much that several of us walked up and down Central Avenue.”

At the end of the tour, Pitts asked Braund to return to Hollywood with her, but Braund was unable to grab this opportunity to further her career because she had already signed with the USO.

Instead, Pitts took Nancy Davis, who had a minor role in the play. Years later Davis became the First Lady, Nancy Reagan.

Landing in Italy, Braund was with a troupe that entertained soldiers in Italy, Germany, and France from 1944 to 45. “Interestingly, the play was available only for military officers and not to the enlisted men,” said Braund.

Returning to New York after about a year, she landed contracts as the ‘straight girl’ for comedians in vaudeville and traveled the country with shows.

For years after that, she lived in the San Francisco area, worked in offices, and raised two sons with her first husband. After they were divorced, she met and married Buzz Braund.

Great Falls Connection

The family lived in Great Falls, three different times through his job with Autonetics, a division of North American Aviation. Whether in Minot or Grand Forks, N.D.; Warrensburg, Mo.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; or Great Falls, his job was to represent the company by writing about the Minuteman Missiles.

The couple lived in Great Falls when he retired. They decided this north central Montana city would be their permanent home.

During the ensuing years, they bred Portuguese Water Dogs, Dalmatians, and Havenese dogs. They also ran a kennel.

Since their dogs were consistently prize winners, dog owners wanted to know what Kathryn Braund had to say about the three breeds.

She was asked to be the editor of the Portuguese Water Dogs magazine when it was in its infancy of only 12 pages per issue. She did everything from writing articles, to layout, to distribution.

By the time she retired from this responsibility in 1998, most issues of the magazine that published six times a year were 186 pages.

Because of her involvement with raising Portuguese Water Dogs, she was called when the Obamas were thinking about that breed of dog as a pet for their daughters.

An Author of Fiction

During these years, she wrote The Complete Portuguese Water Dog in 1986, Devoted to Dogs in 2002, and The Joyous Havenese in 2005. All three books are still being sold through Amazon.

When her husband died, she closed the kennel, sold the home, and moved to Eagles Manor back in Great Falls, where she now has an apartment.

After the move, she had time to write about topics other than dogs and decided to branch out and write an historical book titled Rosa and the Prince. It’s about her grandmother.

Rosa was a beautiful Hungarian peasant girl who became involved with Crown Prince Rudolph of Habsburg and had a child by him. He later committed suicide—or was murdered. Rosa and Prince Rudolph’s daughter (Braund’s mother) came to the U.S. in 1912.

After completing the story about her grandmother, Braund wrote several mystery books.

Her latest novel, Melinda Mahoney Powers, is an unforgettable story. Leroy Mahoney, horribly abused as a small child, relies on his sister, Melinda, to give him guidance. Their life journey will make you angry, make you smile, make your heart beat with passion, and bring a tear to your eye.

The story leads them from a farmhouse to a mansion, from an orphanage to Hollywood glitter, and finally to a senior retirement home in Montana.

This tale of rags to riches, including years in early-day Hollywood, is fast-paced and builds on the main characters from childhood and depicts how their past influenced their personalities as they became adults.

This book is available at Amazon.com and in a Kindle format. The print version is in easy-to-read large print. MSN

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