Katharine Vedder: A MAC Student’s Brush with Fame

27 05 2015
Katharine Vedder

Katharine Vedder

While a student at Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University), Katharine Vedder was involved in the MAC Dramatic Club and MAC Opera. She was even named “Favorite Actress” in the Public Opinion Section of the 1913 MAC yearbook. Her talent and experience helped her land a part in a movie for the [Lansing] State Journal in 1914. The movie was to promote local donations for the “Christmas Ship”, a nationwide effort to send a ship full of presents to children in war torn Europe. A scout for Oscar Hammerstein I, a vaudeville producer in New York City, saw the movie and liked Vedder’s smile and dancing ability. On the recommendation of his scout, Hammerstein offered her a contract, including a nice salary, for a dancing act. Vedder considered the offer but her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herman K. Vedder, advised her not to take it. The opinion of Mr. Vedder, a professor of Civil Engineering at MAC, must have held a lot of weight. She took her parents’ advice and stayed in East Lansing to earn a degree in home economics in 1916. Vedder’s brush with fame was documented in an undated newspaper article found in the MSU Archives.

State Journal newspaper article

A couple years after graduation, Vedder moved to New York City and worked as an editor for Criterion garment advertising magazine. Vedder married William Carl “Chappie” Chapman, an advertising department employee at Packard Motor Company in New York, whom she met as a student at MAC. Searches in the MAC Record publication gave clues to Vedder’s life after college, but there is no way to know if she regretted giving up her chance at fame.

Vedder played Celia in the MAC Dramatic Club's 1913 performance of

Vedder played Celia in the MAC Dramatic Club’s 1913 performance of “As You Like It”

In the MAC Dramatic Club's 1914 performance of

In the MAC Dramatic Club’s 1914 performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Vedder played Hermia

*Note: In some sources her first name is spelled “Katharine” and in others it is “Katherine.”

Written by Sarah Roberts, acquisitions archivist.

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