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Julie Stevens Papers


Julie Stevens Papers
Stevens, Julie
Collection number:
LAB 99-81
7.00 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
Mass Media and Culture
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

Julie Stevens (1916-1984) was an American actress best known for playing the lead role on the radio soap opera "The Romance of Helen Trent." She performed this role for over 15 years. Ms. Stevens also appeared as a newspaper reporter on the TV series "Big Town," from 1951-1952. The bulk of the collection documents Ms. Stevens' early theatrical career and her long radio run as Helen on "The Romance of Helen Trent."

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Julie Stevens Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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Historical Note

Julie Stevens (1916-1984) was an American actress of stage, film, television and radio. She is best remembered for playing the part of Helen Trent on the long-running radio serial "The Romance of Helen Trent." Stevens played the role for sixteen years, beginning in 1944.

Born Harriet Foote in St. Louis, MO, Ms. Stevens' birth date was November 23rd. After attending what is now Columbia College in St. Louis, MO she came to New York and made her Broadway debut by replacing Gene Tierney in the play "The Male Animal." Some of Ms. Stevens' other Broadway credits included "Snookie" (1941), "Brooklyn USA" (1942) and "Proof Through the Night" (1943).

In 1942, she took on the title role of "Kitty Foyle" in the daily radio serial based on the film which starred Ginger Rogers. This radio serial ran from 1942 to 1944. Other radio shows on which Stevens performed included "Abbie's Irish Rose," "Road of Life" and "The Abbott Mysteries."

In 1944, Ms. Stevens took over the part of Helen Trent (previously played by actresses Virginia Clark and Betty Ruth Smith). Until the program left the air, listeners tuned in daily for the trials and tribulations of this series' resilient heroine. Each broadcast began with the announcer stating the program's famous preamble: "And now "The Romance of Helen Trent": the real-life drama of Helen Trent, who, when life mocks her, breaks her hopes, dashes her against the rocks of despair, fights back bravely, successfully, to prove what so many women long to prove - that because a woman is thirty-five or more, romance in life need not be over, that romance can begin at thirty-five."

Concurrent with her work on radio as "Helen Trent," Stevens also worked from 1951-1952 on the dramatic TV series "Big Town." Her character was a newspaper reporter named Lorilei.

After playing Helen Trent for the last time in 1960, Ms. Stevens retired to Cape Cod, Massachusetts where, for many years, she co-hosted an area radio show that featured theatre reviews and more. She also devoted her time to her family, to performing in local theatre and to various business interests.

Ms. Stevens married Charles Underhill, an executive with US Steel, in 1944. They had two daughters. Ms. Stevens died on August 26, 1984.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Julie Stevens Papers spans the years 1940 to 1980. The collection contains newspaper and magazine clippings, correspondence, business contracts, fan mail, programs, scripts, photos, magazines and a small number of artifacts all pertaining to Ms. Stevens' performing career on stage, radio, film and television.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Julie Stevens Papers was donated to the Library of American Broadcasting, University of Maryland Libraries by Sarah Underhill Kitch, Ms. Stevens' daughter in March of 1999.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Cary O'Dell, 2004

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Cary O'Dell, January 2005.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Clippings, 1940-1972 (8 folders)

This series contains a cross-section of newspaper articles, gossip column mentions, and reviews for the following productions: stage play, "The Male Animal" (1940-1941); stage play, "Brooklyn, USA" (1941); radio serial, "Romance of Helen Trent" (1944-1975); television serial, "Big Town" (1951-1952); miscellaneous stage plays, radio shows and film work. This series also contains clippings pertaining to Ms. Stevens' personal life. Organized by type/production and then by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Clippings -- "The Male Animal", 1940-1941 series 1box 1folder 1
Clippings -- "Brooklyn, USA", 1941 series 1box 1folder 2
Clippings -- Miscellaneous stage productions, 1943-1972 series 1box 1folder 3
Clippings -- Miscellaneous radio shows, 1942-1948 series 1box 1folder 4
Clippings -- Film work, circa 1939 series 1box 1folder 5
Clippings -- "Romance of Helen Trent", 1944-1975 series 1box 1folder 6
Clippings -- "Big Town", 1951-1952 series 1box 1folder 7
Clippings -- Personal life, 1940-1972 series 1box 1folder 8

Series 2: Correspondence, 1940-1982 (11 folders)

This series contain correspondence sent to Ms. Steven pertaining to her career, or personal correspondence from friends, relatives, and colleagues. This correspondence includes: opening night well-wishing telegrams from various friends and family members; communiquès from the likes of Betty Garde, Frank and Anne Hummert, Wally Phillips, Richard Lamparski, Leigh Richmond, and Laird Cregar; and various letters and cards from devoted fans and autograph seekers. The bulk of the "fan mail" is from listeners of "Helen Trent" and viewers of TV's "Big Town." Letters are ordered by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence -- Professional, 1941-1951 series 2box 2folder 1
Correspondence -- Professional, 1952-1969 series 2box 2folder 2
Correspondence -- Professional, 1975-1982 series 2box 2folder 3
Correspondence -- Professional, undated series 2box 2folder 4
Correspondence -- Personal, 1952-1962 series 2box 2folder 5
Correspondence -- Fan Mail, 1942-1951 series 2box 2folder 6
Correspondence -- Fan Mail, 1952-1955 series 2box 2folder 7
Correspondence -- Fan Mail, 1956-1959 series 2box 2folder 8
Correspondence -- Fan Mail, 1960 series 2box 2folder 9
Correspondence -- Fan Mail, 1962-1982 series 2box 2folder 10
Correspondence -- Fan Mail, undated series 2box 2folder 11

Series 3: Radio Scripts, 1942-1944 (3 folders)

This series is comprised of a small collection of four radio scripts that Ms. Stevens starred in, including "The O'Keefe Show" (3/29/42); "Kitty Foyle" (undated; series ran: 1942-44); and a partial script (2 pages) for an undated, unknown program. Files are arranged alphabetically by title and then internally by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Radio scripts, undated series 3box 3folder 1

Series 4: Contracts, 1939-1961 (1 folder)

Legal documents (13 total) pertaining to Ms. Stevens' acting career. Contracts are with such entities as Warner Brothers studios, Zeppo Marx, Inc., Actor's Equity, the William Morris Agency and others. Organized by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Contracts, 1939-1961 series 4box 3folder 2

Series 5: Theater Programs, 1940 (1 folder)

Six stagebills from Ms. Stevens' tour with the production "The Male Animal." Ordered by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Theatre programs, 1940 series 5box 3folder 3

Series 6: Photos, Undated (14 folders)

This series contains black and white snapshots from Ms. Stevens' professional and personal life, including: 8" x 10" "head shots" and publicity photos featuring Ms. Stevens (93 total, including many duplicates); unposed candid photos (8 total) from all stages of Ms. Stevens's career, taken backstage, at events, etc.; family pictures (24 total), posed and non-, of Ms. Stevens with her husband and children; seven publicity photos and other stills taken from various productions (film, theatre, TV) starring Ms. Stevens, including "The Male Animal" and other Universal motion pictures; photographs (some autographed) of Arthur Godfrey, Peggy Wood, Barry Wood, Don DeFore, John Anderson and several unidentified persons; a photo of a cover page from a "Romance of Helen Trent" script; and a photo where only Ms. Stevens' hands are visible as she fills out a biographical questionaire.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Photographs -- Portraits, undated series 6box 3folder 4
Photographs -- Portraits, undated series 6box 3folder 5
Photographs -- Portraits, undated series 6box 3folder 6
Photographs -- Portraits, undated series 6box 3folder 7
Photographs -- Portraits, undated series 6box 3folder 8
Photographs -- Portraits, undated series 6box 3folder 9
Photographs -- Portraits, undated series 6box 3folder 10
Photographs -- Portraits, undated series 6box 3folder 11
Photographs -- Candids, undated series 6box 3folder 12
Photographs -- Family, undated series 6box 3folder 13
Photographs -- Production stills, undated series 6box 3folder 14
Photographs -- Other people--identified, undated series 6box 3folder 15
Photographs -- Other people--unidentified, undated series 6box 3folder 16
Photographs -- Misc., undated series 6box 3folder 17

Series 7: "Queen of Daytime Dramatic Series", 1952 (1 folder)

Photos (8), certificate (1), and letters (2) detailing Stevens' 1952 crowning as "Queen of the Daytime Dramatic Serials" at a "client-CBS promotional cocktail party" at the Stork Club in New York City. Photos feature Stevens, Yul Brynner (then playing a "king" on Broadway) and Phil Silvers. There are eleven items total in this series.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
"Queen of the Dramatic Serials" material -- Letters, photos, certificates, 1951 series 7box 4folder 1

Series 8: Miscellaneous, Various (1 folder)

Various odds and ends (19 items total) including one press release, a family genealogy, notes on an upcoming personal vacation, material related to a 1971 high school reunion, play programs for productions not featuring Ms. Stevens, and a magazine profile in draft form.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Miscellaneous -- Press release, profile article, programs, family genealogy, various dates series 8box 4folder 2

Series 9: Magazines, 1950-1980 (14 folders)

This series houses a collection of magazines--mainly "Radio-TV Mirror" --with full feature stories on "Helen Trent" and/or Ms. Stevens. They are ordered by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Magazines -- "Radio and TV Mirror", October 1950 series 9box 4folder 3
Magazines -- "Radio-TV Mirror", October 1953 series 9box 4folder 4
Magazines -- "Who's Who in TV and Radio", 1954 series 9box 4folder 5
Magazines -- "Radio-TV Mirror", March 1954 series 9box 4folder 6
Magazines -- "TV-Radio Annual", 1955 series 9box 4folder 7
Magazines -- "TV Radio Mirror", January 1955 series 9box 4folder 8
Magazines -- "TV Radio Mirror", April 1955 series 9box 4folder 9
Magazines -- "TV Radio Mirror", May 1955 series 9box 4folder 10
Magazines -- "Radio Mirror", March 1956 series 9box 4folder 11
Magazines -- "TV Radio Mirror", May 1957 series 9box 4folder 12
Magazines -- "TV Radio Mirror", May 1958 series 9box 4folder 13
Magazines -- "Daytime TV Stars", June 1977 series 9box 4folder 14
Magazines -- "The Villager", November 1980 series 9box 4folder 15
Magazines -- "Cape Cod Today", February 1981 series 9box 4folder 16

Series 10: Artifacts, 1957-1958 (2 boxes)

This series contains additional materials from the collection, including:

--Two gold medallion "TV--Radio Mirror" awards (1957-58; 1958-59) for "Favorite Radio Dramatic Actress," in their original cases. --Two oversize certificates noting the above awards from "TV-Radio Mirror" --Name tag from Sixth Annual CBS Radio Affiliates Association Convention --Oversize (25" x 38"), multi-color poster promoting the April 22, 1964 TV special "U.S. Steel Presents 'Opening Night at the World's Fair'" which aired over NBC and featured Carol Channing, Marian Anderson, Henry Fonda and Walt Disney, among others.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Artifacts -- Awards, name tags, ribbons (oversize), 1957-1958 series 10box 5folder 1
Artifacts -- Certificates (oversize), 1957-1958 series 10box 6folder 1

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