Carol Starre-Kmiecik brings history alive as she portrays seven women from American history.
In a recent performance for the Town and Country Garden Club, Strarre-Kmiecik appeared as Dorothy Fuldheim, a Cleveland journalist and the first woman in the nation to anchor a news program.
"I had always done theater my entire life and when I had kids, it was difficult to go off to rehearse for six weeks," Starre-Kmiecik said. So she began researching for her own productions.
"It was a little hobby sort of thing," she said. Her first subject was Clare Booth Luce, a journalist, playwright, congresswoman and ambassador.
In 1996 she researched Fuldheim and the first lady of journalism has become Starre-Kmiecik's most popular character.
Her business has grown as she has researched more women to add to her repertoire.
She now has presentations of Fuldheim, Luce, Amelia Earheart, Clara Barton, Elizabeth Bayley Seton, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Molly Brown.
"It started to snowball," Starre-Kmiecik said. "I get to go to all these little towns I've never heard of in my life."
To make her presentations as authentic as possible, Starre-Kmiecik has spent hours poring over books and research and searching for vintage clothing.
"I go to a lot of estate sales. I buy a lot of things that no one else wants to buy," Starre-Kmiecik said.
"It usually takes several months," she said. "You have to research and find the right costume. What I usually do is find as many books as possible."
Starre-Kmiecik traveled to Denver to research Molly Brown and separate myth from reality.
She found a suit from the 1940s for her Fuldheim character and also found a red wig.
"She had such bright red hair," Starre-Kmiecik said. "I found a long wig that I pin up."
The actress earned a bachelor's degree in speech and theater arts from Baldwin-Wallace College and studied improvisational theater at Chicago's Second City for two years.
She has appeared in more than 60 plays, several films, television shows and commercials and worked as a spokeswoman at hundreds of trade shows, conventions and seminars across the country. Starre-Kmiecik has also worked as a makeup artist, taught children's theater classes and directed plays.
She will also research and customize a new character based on a group's request.