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Julie Stevens papers

 Collection 0001-MMC-LAB

Julie Stevens (1916-1984) was an American actress best known for playing the lead role on the CBS radio soap opera The Romance of Helen Trent. She performed this role for over 15 years, from 1944 to 1960. Stevens also appeared as newspaper reporter Lorelei Kilbourne on CBS television series Big Town, from 1951-1952. The bulk of the collection documents Stevens' early theatrical career and her long radio run as Helen on The Romance of Helen Trent.


  • 1940-1980
  • Majority of material found within 1942-1959

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder. Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


7.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of 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 Stevens' performing career on stage, radio, film and television.


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, 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 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, 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, 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.

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


This collection is arranged into 10 series.

Series 1
Series 2
Series 3
Radio Scripts
Series 4
Series 5
Theater Programs
Series 6
Series 7
"Queen of Daytime Dramatic Series"
Series 8
Series 9
Series 10

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, Stevens' daughter in March of 1999.

Guide to the Julie Stevens papers
Processed by Cary O'Dell.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funded in part by the National Endowment of the Humanities.

Revision Statements

  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Karen E. King.
  • 2009-07-15: EAD revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2017-07-07: Finding aid checked and verified post ArchivesSpace migration by Joanne Archer.
  • 2021-11-05: Jim Baxter re-wrote the collection abstract; Sam O’Donnell updated gendered language.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742