I was very sad this evening to have heard that my friend Kate Phillips had passed away on April 18th.
In Hollywood in the 1930's and 40's, she was known as Kay Linaker. She appeared in 50 motion pictures, and worked with the likes of John Barrymore, Jack Benny, Ginger Rogers, Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert, John Ford, and on and on.
The stories she would tell! Talking about screen legends who she knew only as her friends; helping Bing Crosby after a drinking binge when his wife was dying; babysitting for Jack Benny, shooting in a difficult location (when Technicolor cameras were the size of a car) for DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK.
I first met Kate when she came to our Christmas Show THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1946, which we were performing at the Claremont Opera House in NH. In that play we performed a Jack Benny Christmas skit, and after the show I was told there was a lady who wanted to meet me. Turns out it was Kate, a spry 89 year old lady with more energy than I had! She told me how she had worked with Jack Benny, and wanted me to know how much she enjoyed our performance.
I met with her many times after that, and met her a few times for lunch at the Lane Hotel in Keene NH. The stories were incredible. She also recorded with us, in a show that, unfortunately was never released.
In 2004 she joined me onstage after a performance of William Luce's play BARRYMORE, for a talk-back with the audience. That was a great night and I shall never forget it.
She always asked for my Dad, who was going through such difficult medical issues during that time; I had told her how he was a big Buck Jones fan in his youth, and she had made a picture with Jones. I showed it to my dad, and he couldn't believe I knew the leadnig lady! When she asked how he was doing, I could tell she really cared - she wasn't just saying it.
In just the last couple of weeks I was thinking I owed her a call, as it had been a few months since we spoke. Why didn't I.
It was a priveledge to have known such a wonderful person. The world is a sadder place to all those who knew her.