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Mona Kent papers

 Collection 0005-MMC-LAB
Mona Kent (1909-1990) was a script writer for both radio and television, having written hundreds of scripts for the radio serial "Portia Faces Life" and contributing scripts to TV's "Captain Video" series. The collection primarily documents Kent's work on the radio soap "Portia Faces Life" from 1940 to 1956.

Dates

  • 1940-1988 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1945-1954

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials page for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Extent

29 Linear Feet (58 Hollinger boxes)

3 Linear Feet (2 record storage containers)

1.5 Linear Feet (1 oversize flat Hollinger box)

33.5 Linear Feet (58 Hollinger boxes 2 record storage containers 1 oversize flat Hollinger box)

Scope and Content of Collection

The Mona Kent Papers spans the dates 1940-1988 with the bulk of the collection between 1945 and 1954. The collection, which primarily documents Kent's work on the radio soap "Portia Faces Life" from 1940 to 1956, includes scripts, original stories, photos, books and other media, and some promotional items.

Biography

Mona Kent (nee Ramona Hunt) (1909-1990) was a prolific American writer for radio and television as well as the author of a novel and other published and unpublished works.

Born in Iowa in 1909, Ms. Kent was rumored to have once worked as Harvey Girl for the Santa Fe railroad before beginning her professional writing career in Denver in the 1930s. There, she reportedly wrote radio soap operas titled "Roads to Adventure" and "The Barrett Outfit."

Later, Kent would relocate to Chicago, a far more active hub for the radio industry. There, she created her most famous and long-lasting work, the radio soap "Portia Faces Life."

"Portia" debuted in 1940 over the NBC radio network. Aired daily in 15-minute installments, it told the ongoing story of Portia Blake, a young, female attorney whose husband had died before the series began leaving our heroine to raise their son, Dickie, all alone. Kent told "Time" magazine in September of 1949, "Every soap-opera heroine. . .is, by definition, a much stronger person than her husband or any man in her orbit. . . ."

When the series ended its run in 1951, it concluded with a forever unresolved cliffhanger: Portia had just been found guilty of a crime she had not committed and was about to be carted off to jail.

Earlier, in 1943, Kent created and wrote a second radio serial, "Woman Of America."

With the advent of television, Ms. Kent turned her writing skills to that medium, penning episodes of the early sci-fi series "Captain Video and His Video Rangers."

In 1954, she created the soap opera "Woman With a Past" for the CBS television network. The show's lead character was a dress designer named Lynn Sherwood, played by actress Constance Ford. This show ran for six months.

During her life, Ms. Kent also found time to write numerous short stories, radio and TV scripts, adaptations, and articles as well as write and publish a novel titled "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall" (Popular Library, 1950). A pulp fiction-y paperback, "Mirror" told the story of Dell Thornton, the writer of "syrupy soap operas for radio" who "destroyed everything she loved." (According to a 1988 article on Ms. Kent, she also, allegedly, published a second novel titled "Ol' Rum River," but this is unconfirmed.)

Reportedly married several times, in later years Ms. Kent would work under the name Mona Kent Eddy. She eventually settled on Long Island and spent her winters in Marathon, Florida. She was in Florida when she passed away in December of 1990.

Arrangement

This collection is organized as six series:
Series 1
Scripts
Series 2
"Portia" outlines
Series 3
"A Woman of America"
Series 4
Photographs
Series 5
Correspondence
Series 6
Books/Media/Artifacts

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Mona Kent Papers was donated to the Library of American Broadcasting, University of Maryland Libraries by Michael J. Cassata, a longtime friend and neighbor of Ms. Kent's, in April of 2001.

Additional material was donated on October 18, 2017 by Peter and Irva Moore, who had purchased Kent's former home for renovations.
Title
Guide to the Mona Kent papers
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Cary O'Dell. Additional material described by Jen Wachtel in March, 2018.
Date
2004-01-01
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Sponsor
Funded in part by the National Endowment of the Humanities.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742
301-405-9212