Bio Bits

Joseph Cheshire Cotten was born into a well-to-do Southern family
in Petersburg, Virginia on May 15, 1905.
Jo was the eldest of three sons born to Sally Bartlett and Joseph Cotten, Sr.
Jo and his brothers Whit and Sam spent their summers at their aunt and uncle's home at Virginia Beach - and at an early age Jo discovered a passion for story-telling, reciting, and performing acts for his family.

with mother
1906 - with his mother, Sally

3 generations
1908 - young Jo with his grandfather John Cotten and his father, Joseph Cotten, Sr.
age 6

>> At age 6.
This photo was used to show Cotten's characters as boys in "Shadow of a Doubt" and "Love Letters."



Cotten studied acting at the Hickman School of Expression in Washington, D.C., and in 1924 headed out to take New York by storm.

It didn't happen - he worked as a shipping clerk, and after a year of getting nowhere on the stage, he journeyed with friends to Miami, Florida to think things over.

He supported himself with a variety of jobs: a lifeguard, an ad salesman/drama critic for the Miami Herald, and even had a short stint as an entrepreneur, making and selling 'Tip Top Potato Salad'.

However, Cotten also appeared in plays at the Miami Civic Theater, and through a connection at the Miami Herald, managed to land an assistant stage manager job in New York. In 1929 he was engaged for a season at the Copley Theatre in Boston, and there he learned his craft, appearing in 30 plays in a wide variety of parts.

His foot was in the door, and in 1930 he made his Broadway debut.

In 1931 Cotten married Lenore La Mont, a pianist and a divorcee with a two-year-old daughter. Their marriage would last until Lenore's death from leukemia in 1960.


with Katharine Hepburn
With Katharine Hepburn in the stage production of "The Philadelphia Story." (Cotten's role would go to Cary Grant in the 1940 film version.)


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