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Jean Rouverol Butler Papers
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Collection Overview
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The bulk of the Jean Rouverol Butler Papers consists of the creative writing, correspondence and personal papers of Jean Rouverol Butler; a small portion relates to her husband Hugo Butler. Jean’s work comprises short stories, poems, novellas and screenplays that she worked on alone and with her husband.
Born in St. Louis on July 8, 1916, Jean Rouverol was the daughter of Joseph Rouverol and Aurania Ellerbeck Rouverol, who was an actress turned writer. Aurania created the Andy Hardy character for the stage and went on to write plays and the 1931 Joan Crawford film "Dance, Fools, Dance." Rouverol grew up in Los Angeles and Palo Alto, CA and briefly attended Stanford. She began acting at a young age and performed in LA and New York. Beginning in the late 1930s through the 1940s, she played the part of Betty on the radio soap opera One Man’s Family. In May 1937 Rouverol married screenwriter Hugo Butler and they went on to have six children. In 1940, she got her first Hollywood writing job at MGM. Between 1945 and 1947, Rouverol sold four novellas to McCall's magazine. By 1950, her first screenplay So Young So Bad had been made into a movie but her screenwriting career was halted after it was discovered that she and Butler had been members of the American Communist Party. In 1951, the House Un-American Activities Committee attempted to subpoena the couple. Rouverol and Butler chose to live in exile with their four children in Mexico rather than face HUAC. While in exile, Rouverol had two more children and continued to write screenplays, short stories and magazine articles and she and Butler co-wrote several screenplays using fronts and pseudonyms to keep their identities secret. The family lived in Mexico for eleven years and spent three more in Italy, for Butler’s film work, before returning to California permanently in 1964. Butler died in 1968 and Rouverol continued to write. She published several books: a juvenile biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1968), young adult biographies of Pancho Villa (1972) and Benito Juarez (1973) and a gothic suspense novel Storm Wind Rising (1974). She worked on daytime soap operas: Bright Promise, Search For Tomorrow, As The World Turns and Guiding Light, the last of which garnered her two Daytime Emmy nominations and a Writers Guild Award. In 1984, she penned Writing for the Soaps which was expanded and retitled Writing for Daytime Drama, published in 1992. She also taught at USC and UCLA Extension. She served four terms on the WGA's Board of Directors and in 1987, she received the Writers Guild's Morgan Cox Award for service to the union. In 2000, at age 84, she published a memoir "Refugees From Hollywood: A Journal of the Blacklist Years" about her family's life in exile in Mexico. Rouverol moved to Pawling, NY in 2005, where she lived with her partner Clifford Carpenter, a blacklisted actor. He died in 2014. Rouverol died on March 24, 2017 and is survived by her son Michael Butler; five daughters, Susan Butler, Becky Butler, Mary Butler, Emily McCoy and Deborah Spiegelman; eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Hugo Butler was born on May 4,1914 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to screenwriter Frank Butler. After his parents divorced, he grew up in Canada with his mother until moving to Hollywood for his first writing job under contract at MGM in 1936. Butler married Jean Rouverol in 1937 and they went on to have six children. He achieved success as a screenwriter and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Story (shared with Dore Schary) for Edison The Man (1940). His career was interrupted briefly while he served in WWII and was derailed when he was named as a member of the American Communist Party during the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings of 1951. He and his wife fled to Mexico with their children, where he continued to write screenplays using pseudonyms. He collaborated with Spanish director Luis Bunuel on several films and worked with director Robert Aldrich as well as producer George Pepper. The family moved to Rome in 1960 for Butler’s writing work and finally back to Hollywood in 1963. His last film credit is The Legend of Lylah Clare (dir. Robert Aldrich) which he wrote with his wife. He died January 7, 1968 in Los Angeles of a heart attack. (Information adapted from Los Angeles Times obituaries)
4 linear feet
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