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Mona Kent Papers

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1487

Abstract

Title:
Mona Kent Papers
Author/Creator:
Kent, Mona
Collection number:
LAB 2001-60
Size:
31.00 linear feet
Bulk dates:
1945-1954
Inclusive dates:
1940-1988 and undated
Collection Area:
Mass Media and Culture
Repository:
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email: askhornbake@umd.edu
Abstract:

Mona Kent (1909-1990) was a script writer for both radio and television, having written hundreds of scripts for the radio serial "Portia Faces Life" and contributing scripts to TV's "Captain Video" series. The collection primarily documents Kent's work on the radio soap "Portia Faces Life" from 1940 to 1956.

Important Information for Users of the Collection

Restrictions:

This collection is open for research use.

Preferred citation:

Mona Kent Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials page for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Status:

This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Mona Kent (nee Ramona Hunt) (1909-1990) was a prolific American writer for radio and television as well as the author of a novel and other published and unpublished works.

Born in Iowa in 1909, Ms. Kent was rumored to have once worked as Harvey Girl for the Santa Fe railroad before beginning her professional writing career in Denver in the 1930s. There, she reportedly wrote radio soap operas titled "Roads to Adventure" and "The Barrett Outfit."

Later, Kent would relocate to Chicago, a far more active hub for the radio industry. There, she created her most famous and long-lasting work, the radio soap "Portia Faces Life."

"Portia" debuted in 1940 over the NBC radio network. Aired daily in 15-minute installments, it told the ongoing story of Portia Blake, a young, female attorney whose husband had died before the series began leaving our heroine to raise their son, Dickie, all alone. Kent told "Time" magazine in September of 1949, "Every soap-opera heroine. . .is, by definition, a much stronger person than her husband or any man in her orbit. . . ."

In later years, Portia would (after encountering innumerable travails on her way to the altar) eventually remarry, to a man named Walter Manning, though her life and the lives of those around her would remain ever eventful.

When the series ended its run in 1951, it concluded with a forever unresolved cliffhanger: Portia had just been found guilty of a crime she had not committed and was about to be carted off to jail.

Earlier, in 1943, Kent created and wrote a second radio serial, "Woman Of America."

With the advent of television, Ms. Kent turned her writing skills to that medium, penning episodes of the early sci-fi series "Captain Video and His Video Rangers."

In 1954, she created the soap opera "Woman With a Past" for the CBS television network. The show's lead character was a dress designer named Lynn Sherwood, played by actress Constance Ford. This show ran for six months.

During her life, Ms. Kent also found time to write numerous short stories, radio and TV scripts, adaptations, and articles as well as write and publish a novel titled "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall" (Popular Library, 1950). A pulp fiction-y paperback, "Mirror" told the story of Dell Thornton, the writer of "syrupy soap operas for radio" who "destroyed everything she loved." (According to a 1988 article on Ms. Kent, she also, allegedly, published a second novel titled "Ol' Rum River," but this is unconfirmed.)

Reportedly married several times, in later years Ms. Kent would work under the name Mona Kent Eddy. She eventually settled on Long Island and spent her winters in Marathon, Florida. She was in Florida when she passed away in December of 1990.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Mona Kent Papers spans the dates 1940-1988 with the bulk of the collection between 1945 and 1954. The collection, which primarily documents Kent's work on the radio soap "Portia Faces Life" from 1940 to 1956, includes scripts, original stories, photos, books and other media, and some promotional items.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Mona Kent Papers was donated to the Library of American Broadcasting, University of Maryland Libraries by Michael J. Cassata, a longtime friend and neighbor of Ms. Kent's, in April of 2001.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Cary O'Dell, January 2004

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Cary O'Dell.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Scripts, 1940-1954; undated (21.25 linear feet)

This series, which accounts for the majority of the collection, contains copies of original scripts (and sometimes adaptations) written by Ms. Kent for both radio and television.

This series has four subseries.

Subseries 1.1: "Portia Faces Life", 1940-1956; undated (19.70 linear feet)

This subseries contains a staggering number of original radio scripts written by Mona Kent for the daytime drama she created.

Each script is in a separate folder. Almost all of the scripts in this series are dated and/or numbered and have been ordered sequentially by date. Scripts without dates, but which are numbered, are organized in numerical order. A small number of scripts with neither date or number are filed at the end of this series in no particular order.

Note that not all scripts are complete; pages may be missing. Note as well that exact duplicates of some scripts may exist.

Meanwhile, the inclusive dates of 1940-1956 (and the dates listed in the box inventories) should not be construed to mean that all scripts between these dates are in this collection; gaps do occur.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #132-1192, October 8, 1940 - October 31, 1944series 1.1box 1folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1193-1235, November 1 - December 29, 1944series 1.1box 2folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1236-1278, January 1 - February 28, 1945series 1.1box 3folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1279-1321, March 1 - April 30, 1945series 1.1box 4folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1322-1364, May 1 - June 28, 1945series 1.1box 5folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1366-1410, July 2 - August 31, 1945series 1.1box 6folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1411-1453, September 3 - October 31, 1945series 1.1box 7folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1452-1496, November 1 - December 31, 1945series 1.1box 8folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1498-1539, January 2 - February 28, 1946series 1.1box 9folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1540-1582, March 1 - April 30, 1946series 1.1box 10folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1583-1625, May 1 - June 28, 1946series 1.1box 11folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1626-1670, July 1 - August 30, 1946series 1.1box 12folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1671-1714, September 2 - October 31, 1946series 1.1box 13folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1715-1757, November 1 - December 31, 1946series 1.1box 14folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1759-1800, January 2 - February 28, 1947series 1.1box 15folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1801-1843, March 3 - April 30, 1947series 1.1box 16folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1844-1886, May 1 - June 30, 1947series 1.1box 17folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1887-1930, July 1 - August 29, 1947series 1.1box 18folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1931-1969, September 1 - December 25, 1947series 1.1box 19folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2122-2165, May 24 - July 23, 1948series 1.1box 20folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2166-2209, July 26 - September 23, 1948series 1.1box 21folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2210-2256, September 24 - November 30, 1948series 1.1box 22folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2258-2300, December 1, 1948 - January 31, 1949series 1.1box 23folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2301-2343, February 1 - March 31, 1949series 1.1box 24folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2344-2386, April 1 - May 31, 1949series 1.1box 25folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2387-2429, June 1 - July 29, 1949series 1.1box 26folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2430-2474, August 1 - September 30, 1949series 1.1box 27folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2475-2517, October 3, 1949 - November 30, 1949series 1.1box 28folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2518-2537, December 1 - December 28, 1949series 1.1box 29folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2543-2586, January 5 - March 7, 1950series 1.1box 30folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2587-2635, March 8 - May 15, 1950series 1.1box 31folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2636-2661, March 16 - June 20, 1950series 1.1box 32folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2662-2691, June 21 - August 1, 1950series 1.1box 33folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2692-2733, August 2 - September 28, 1950series 1.1box 34folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2734-2809, September 29, 1950 - January 12, 1951series 1.1box 35folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #1-35, April 5 - May 21, 1954series 1.1box 36folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #36-61, May 24 - June 28, 1954series 1.1box 37folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #62-77, June 29 - July 20, 1954series 1.1box 38folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #78-95, July 21 - August 31, 1954series 1.1box 39folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #95-113, August 13 - September 8, 1954series 1.1box 40folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #114-130; 2741, September 9 - October 1, 1954; October 10, 1956series 1.1box 41folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2590-2975, undatedseries 1.1box 42folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #2976-2999, undatedseries 1.1box 43folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #3000-3050, undatedseries 1.1box 44folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #3051-3110, undatedseries 1.1box 45folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #3111-3145, undatedseries 1.1box 46folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #3146-3175, undatedseries 1.1box 47folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #3176-3215, undatedseries 1.1box 48folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #3217-3239, undatedseries 1.1box 49folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #3239-3275, undatedseries 1.1box 50folder 1
Scripts -- "Portia Faces Life" -- #3276-3315; misc., undatedseries 1.1box 51folder 1

Subseries 1.2: "Captain Video and His Video Rangers", 1951; undated (.41 linear feet)

"Captain Video" was an immensely popular science fiction TV show aimed at children which aired from 1949 to 1955 over the Dumont network, and later in first-run syndication. This subseries contains fifteen Kent-authored scripts (or treatments) for the series. All scripts are undated and untitled unless otherwise noted.

They are: a script labeled "Bridge script between 'Sea of Death' and 'The Invisible Enemy'"; "The Invisible War"; "The Invisible Enemy" (Episode 8); "The Invisible Enemy" (Episode 9); "The Invisible Enemy" (Episode 10); Untitled (May 21, 1951); Untitled (May 22, 1951); Untitled (May 23, 1951); Untitled (May 24, 1951); Untitled (May 25, 1951); Untitled (May 28, 1951); Untitled (May 29, 1951); Untitled (May 30, 1951); Untitled (May 31, 1951); and "Derelicts of Space."

As much as possible, scripts are ordered by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Scripts -- "Captain Video and His Video Rangers", 1951series 1.2box 52folder 1

Subseries 1.3: "Woman With a Past", 1954 (1.66 linear feet)

This subseries contains scripts for the short-lived television soap created and written by Mona Kent. Ordered by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Scripts -- "Woman With a Past" -- #13-35, February 3 - March 19, 1954series 1.3box 53folder 1
Scripts -- "Woman With a Past" -- #36-64, March 22 - April 29, 1954series 1.3box 54folder 1
Scripts -- "Woman With a Past" -- #66-91, May 3 - June 7, 1954series 1.3box 55folder 1
Scripts -- "Woman With a Past" -- #92-110, June 8 - July 2, 1954series 1.3box 56folder 1

Subseries 1.4: Other (Scripts, stories and adaptations), 1953; undated (.41 linear feet)

This subseries contains scripts, stories and a few adaptations, for both radio and TV, written by Ms. Kent. Most seem to be "on-off" programs/stories rather than part of a larger series.

The scripts are arranged alphabetically and include the following titles: "The Affair of the White Robin"; "The Break"; "Cash Crop"; "Checkmate" (TV); "Cool, Boy!" (by Clarice H. Huffaker) (the reason for the inclusion of this story in this collection is not known at this time); "The Coward"; "The Dangerous Choice"; "The Deadliest Sin" (TV); "The Deadliest Sin"; "Dear Beany" (March 3, 1953) (TV); "The Devil's Other Name" (TV) (possibly used for an episode of "Schlitz Playhouse" in 1954); "Ever Since Eve" ("For Adults Only"); "The Finding of Chip Merrill" (TV); "For Evil to Triumph"; "Friday, the Thirteenth" (TV); "Grass Roots"; "I Meant Every Word" (April 13, 1953); "In His Own Image"; "It Might Have Been"; "The Key"; "Louise" (from a story by Somerset Maugham) (radio); "'M' as in Man" (TV); "Monster Party" (based on the characters created by Charles Addams) (TV); "One Man's Meat" ("Perry Mason"); "Open Visa" (short story); "The Return"; "Revenge!" (TV) (May 22, 1953); "Rod Brown, Rocket Ranger" (TV); "The Sacrifice"; "The Sellout"; "See As a Man"; "The Shadow on the Wall"; "The Thing Without a Face" (radio); "The Trap"; "The Widow Wore a Black Eye" (possibly used as an episode of radio's "Silver Theatre" in 1941); "The Wife Problem"; "You're One Yourself"; "You Take It From There"; Untitled #1 ["To the next occupant..."]; Untitled #2 ["Clutching him tightly..."]; and Untitled #3 ["What do you think, Vinnie?..."]. Scripts are arranged alphabetically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Scripts -- Other (Scripts, Stories and Adaptations), 1953; undatedseries 1.4box 57folder 1

Series 2: "Portia" outlines, 1954 (10 folders)

Written trajectories of storylines for "Portia Faces Life," each written by Mona Kent. Arranged by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
"Portia" Outlines, August 13 - August 27, 1954 series 2box 58folder 1
"Portia" Outlines -- #95; #105, August 13 - August 27, 1954 series 2box 58folder 2
"Portia" Outlines -- #106; General Outline, 2 months, undated series 2box 58folder 3
"Portia" Outlines -- #106; General Outline, August 30, 1954 series 2box 58folder 4
"Portia" Outlines -- #106, August 30, 1954 series 2box 58folder 5
"Portia" Outlines -- #106-115; Day-by-Day Outline, August 30 - September 9, 1954 series 2box 58folder 6
"Portia" Outlines -- #116-125; Day-by-Day Outline, September 13 - September 24, 1954 series 2box 58folder 7
"Portia" Outlines, undated series 2box 58folder 8
"Portia" Outlines -- General Outline, undated series 2box 58folder 9
"Portia" Outlines "Portia" Outlines, undated series 2box 58folder 10

Series 3: "A Woman of America", 1943 (1 folder)

This series pertains to the daily radio series "A Woman of America," a unique show as it was set not in contemporary times but during pioneer days. The serial, created and written by Ms. Kent, told the story of a woman named Prudence heading west along the Oregon Trail.

This series contains: a general outline of the series; biographies of its two leading actors, Anne Seymour and James Monks; two press releases singing the praises of the program and its sponsor, Ivory Snow; 4 pages of "spot announcements"; 16 pencil illustrations, some of the them humorous in nature, depicting scenes/characters from the serial by an unknown artist; a document labeled "Suggested Copy for a Letter to be Sent Local Grocers by Station Managers"; one original folder, labeled "Promotional aids for A WOMAN OF AMERICA"; and two advertisements for the serial from Benton & Bowles, Inc. Each of these ads feature a black-and-white drawing depicting actress Anne Seymour, in pioneer garb, as Prudence. Each ad is attached to a cardboard engraving of the pictures which were probably used in newspaper printing.

When and where possible, items are arranged by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
"A Woman of America", 1943 series 3box 58folder 11

Series 4: Photos, circa 1940; undated (3 items)

This series contains three 8" x 10" photos of Ms. Kent: two, in black-and-white, circa 1940s; and one, in color, of Ms. Kent from later in life.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Photos, circa 1940; undated series 4box 58folder 12

Series 5: Other, 1954; undated (1 folder)

Contains two letters (dated August 9, 1954 and August 12, 1954) sent to Ms. Kent by Bev Smith of Young & Rubicam, the producer and producing entity of "Portia," regarding various series plotlines. Also included is a handwritten list, dated September 17, 1954 and addressed "To Mona Kent," for expenses incurred in script production (i.e. cost of dictabelts, etc.).

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Other, 1954; undated series 5box 58folder 13

Series 6: Books/Media/Artifacts, 1950-1999 (1 book, 1 video cassette, 1 box)

This series consists of the book "Radio and Television Writing" by Max Wylie (New York: Rinehart & Company, 1950). It contains a chapter, "Perpetual Emotion," on "the mechanics of plotting the daytime serial" and an excerpt from a "Portia" script both written by Ms. Kent. (A copy of this book is also in the LAB library.)

Also included is a paperback copy of Ms. Kent's novel, "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall" (Popular Library, 1950).

This series contains one VHS videotape (since dubbed to Beta and then to DVD) of a live production of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears: A New Musical Version" written by Mona Kent Eddy. It was presented by the Unicorn Theatre at the Red Barn Theatre in Key West, FL in 1988. Series also contains one paper copy of the show's program.

This donation also contains an 11" x 12" x 3" cardboard latch box which originally held various scripts. (The scripts have been removed and placed in their appropriate series.)

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Media, 1988 series 6box 58folder 14
"Goldilocks and the Three Bears: A New Musical Version" videotape, 1988 series 6box 58folder 14item 1.0
"Goldilocks and the Three Bears" program, 1988 series 6box 58folder 14item 2.0
Books/Artifacts, 1950 series 6box 59folder 1
"Radio and Television Writing", 1950 series 6box 59folder 1item 1.0
"Mirror, Mirror on the Wall", 1950 series 6box 59folder 1item 2.0
latch box, undated series 6box 59folder 1item 3.0

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