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Kate Phillips & The Blob

Kate Phillips played supporting roles in over 50 Warner Brothers movies throughout her film career. She is also credited with co-writing The Blob script and naming the film.

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Mary Katherine (Kay) Linaker was born on July 19, 1913 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Linaker’s father, owner of C.A. Linaker and Company died when she was eleven. When she was twelve years old, Linaker entered Hillside School, a boarding school in Norwalk Connecticut. At 16, she graduated from Hillside. She planned to attend Wellesley College to pursue a degree in theater but unfortunately she contracted polio. The exercise treatments necessary for her recovery were only offered in New York, so a determined Linaker attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts during the day and New York University (NYU) during the night to complete her studies.

Upon graduating from NYU, Linaker acted in supporting roles on Broadway. She soon signed a film contract with Warner Brothers after attracting the attention of a talent scout while acting in the play Jackson White at the Providencetown Theater in Los Angeles, California. In 1936, Linaker debuted in The Murder of Dr. Harrigan after receiving film star Mary Astor’s role when she got into trouble with the studio. Linaker received more and more of Astor’s roles as she settled for smaller parts. In 1936, she was cast in her first leading role opposite Conrad Nagel in The Girl from Mandalay. In 1940, she played her most notable role in Ginger Rogers’ film Kitty Foyle. From the 1930s to 1940s, Linaker played supporting roles in over 50 movies, including five Charlie Chan films.

During World War II, Linaker’s film career halted when she joined the Red Cross, serving as a USO hostess at army-run clubs. In 1945, she married Howard Phillips, a singer in the U.S. Army Air Forces who had experienced moderate success with writing. They teamed up to write for television as Phillips had previously written for The Voices for America, a military sponsored show. She wrote under the pseudonym Kate Phillips. The couple moved to New Hampshire and began writing for television. Howard Phillips later became an NBC-TV executive.

In 1956, Phillips and Theodore Simonson were hired to finish a monster movie script for Irvine H. Milligate and Jack H. Harris, who were pursuing their dream of producing films. The film was originally entitled “The Molten Meteor”, but after the producers overheard Phillips refer to the giant jellylike monster as “the blob”, they changed the name of the film. In 1958, The Blob, featuring Steve McQueen in his first starring role was released, becoming a cult classic horror film. In a later interview, Phillips said, “Both Steve McQueen and I were to receive $150 plus ten percent of the gross. Neither one of us got the percentage—and the film (and its remake) have earned millions—but I got an important writing credit, and Steve became a star!”

After The Blob, Phillips went on to teach acting and screenwriting at Keene State College in New Hampshire from 1980 to 2006. In 1985, Phillips' husband died.

In 2003, she traveled to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, where The Blob was filmed to celebrate the town’s annual Blob Fest. She watched as hundreds of movie fans raced out of the Colonial Theater, re-enacting the panic caused by “the blob” in a scene filmed there almost five decades earlier.

Phillips died in Keene, New Hampshire on April 18, 2008 at 94 years old. She is survived by her two children, Bill and Regina.


Written by: Ninfa O. Barnard

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