Kay Van Riper

Kay Van Riper (1908–1948) was an American screenwriter, actress, and radio personality active during the 1930s and 1940s. Often described as a "tiny blonde," Van Riper won many accolades over the course of her multifaceted career.[1]

Kay Van Riper
Born
Catherine Van Riper

November 6, 1908
Winona, Minnesota, USA
DiedDecember 31, 1948 (aged 40)
Glendale, California, USA
Cause of deathSuicide
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park
OccupationScreenwriter
Years active1937–1946
Spouse(s)Russell Lewis
Robert Wrubel

BiographyEdit

BeginningsEdit

Kay—the only child of John Van Riper and Amelia Wright—was born in Winona, Minnesota, in 1908; the family would also live in Buffalo, Minnesota, while Van Riper was growing up. After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in education in 1927,[2] she moved to Hollywood in 1929 intending to become a teacher.[3]

Radio careerEdit

Soon after arriving in Hollywood, Van Riper found employment as a secretary at a local radio station, where she met radio personality Tom Breneman. Breneman encouraged her to develop her own projects, and soon Van Riper was writing, producing, and starring in her own hit historical drama, English Coronets.[4][5] She was also the program director and publicist for KFWB.[6][7] In 1934, she moved to New York briefly to produce English Coronets for the American Broadcasting Service (which soon folded).[8][9][10] She moved back to L.A. in 1935 and continued producing the show for KFWB.

Screenwriting careerEdit

In 1937, she began working for MGM as a scenarist,[11] contributing to the Andy Hardy franchise[12] as well as several of the studio's biggest musicals, from Babes in Arms to Strike Up the Band. She'd later explain that she drew on her memories of growing up in her small Minnesota town to flesh out the Hardy scripts.[13][14] She also collaborated with Mary C. McCall Jr. on Kathleen, the film that would bring Shirley Temple out of her brief retirement.[15] Eventually she was earning $1,500 a week as part of her contract.[16]

Personal lifeEdit

Van Riper rented Rudolph Valentino's former home in Whitley Heights in the 1930s and told a newspaper columnist she'd briefly thought it was haunted.[17] While working as a screenwriter, she split her time between Los Angeles and New York.[18]

In 1939, she married producer Russell Lewis, who worked in film and also collaborated with Van Riper on her one-act stage plays.[19] The marriage ended in divorce in 1942. She was in the midst of divorcing her second husband, New York–based attorney Robert Wrubel, at the time of her death.[20][21]

Declining health and eventual deathEdit

According to Van Riper's mother, Amelia, Van Riper had suffered from spinal pain that radiated into her legs for more than 20 years, and by early 1948, it had gotten so bad that Van Riper had to give up her career. She'd seen doctors all over the world, and to no avail.[22]

Van Riper died on New Year's Eve of 1948 after overdosing on sleeping pills in her Glendale, California, home. Her mother, who was living with her at the time, found her body sitting next to her bed. No note was found, but the coroner classified the death as a suicide.[23][24][25]

Selected filmographyEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "1 Jan 1949, 247 - Daily News at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  2. ^ "11 Aug 1938, Page 11 - The Minneapolis Star at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  3. ^ "1 Jan 1949, 11 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  4. ^ "15 Sep 1935, 46 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  5. ^ "25 Feb 1933, 12 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  6. ^ "28 Feb 1932, 59 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  7. ^ "21 Jun 1932, 16 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  8. ^ "26 Oct 1934, 12 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  9. ^ "16 Nov 1934, 12 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  10. ^ "17 Apr 1935, 9 - Wisconsin State Journal at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  11. ^ "25 Oct 1937, 12 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  12. ^ "4 Dec 1938, 34 - The Miami News at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  13. ^ "11 Feb 1939, 6 - Crowley Daily Signal at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  14. ^ "25 Feb 1939, 5 - Calgary Herald at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  15. ^ "11 Oct 1940, Page 31 - The Courier-Journal at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  16. ^ "1 Jan 1949, Page 1 - The San Bernardino County Sun at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  17. ^ "29 Jun 1938, Page 4 - The Evening Independent at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  18. ^ "16 Mar 1947, Page 11 - Daily Press at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  19. ^ "15 Aug 1938, 11 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  20. ^ "1 Jan 1949, 247 - Daily News at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  21. ^ "5 Mar 1949, 26 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  22. ^ "1 Jan 1949, 247 - Daily News at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  23. ^ "1 Jan 1949, 11 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  24. ^ "31 Dec 1948, 3 - Des Moines Tribune at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  25. ^ "31 Dec 1948, 2 - Lincoln Journal Star at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-01-07.