GUTHRIE, LEE, (formerly Mary Lee Kane), The brilliant and beautiful, Lee Guthrie died July 19, 2012 in Santa Monica, CA, in the arms of her daughter, Cathleen Young, with her granddaughters, Shaelee and Gemma DeCarolis, nearby.
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Lee was born January 14, 1936 in Louisville, KY, to Robert Kane, a garment-cutter for Enro and Marguerite Guthrie, a court stenographer and Democratic precinct captain.
Lee came of age during the anti-war movement, the feminist movement and the civil rights era. She embraced all three as protestor and activist. As a young girl, Lee saw the movie, HIS GIRL FRIDAY, with Rosalind Russell and found her true calling as a newspaper reporter.
In 1951, at the age of 15, Lee was a stringer for The Louisville Courier Journal. She attended the University of Kentucky for two years, leaving to marry her college sweetheart, Donald Young, Jr., from Fort Thomas, KY. Three children were born in quick succession: Donald, Cathleen and Mary Sean. ("One of the benefits of the Catholic 'rhythm' method," as Lee liked to say.) Lee resumed her education at Oberlin College and graduated in 1965. After college, Lee was named Bureau chief of The Chronicle-Telegram in Elyria, OH, then became the nightly news reporter for WERE Radio in Cleveland, OH. In 1973, Lee sued her employer under the Equal Pay Act when she discovered she was paid exactly half the salary of her male counterpart. The station settled, but, afterwards, Lee could not get a broadcast job.
In 1976, Lee and Donald moved to New York City a place they fell in love with "instantly, madly and forever." While Donald worked as the news editor for WPIX 11 in New York City, Lee worked as a freelance writer, selling her first short stories: "In Search of the Perfect Christmas," to Redbook Magazine and "The Two of Us," to McCall's Magazine.
Lee wrote three celebrity biographies: Jackie O; Woody Allen: A Biography; and The Life and Loves of Cary Grant for Drake Publishers. At the same time, her work appeared regularly in Cosmopolitan, Savvy, The Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine and The Field Syndicate. Lee also launched and managed the early career of her youngest child, actress Sean Young. Lee co-wrote several television movies with her older daughter, including, A PLACE FOR ANNIE, the award winning Hallmark Hall of Fame production for ABC for which she won the HUMANITAS Prize and the Christopher Award. She was nominated for an Emmy, as well as the prestigious Writer's Guild Award. She co-wrote and produced, A Time to Heal for NBC.
Throughout Lee's life, she cherished her friendships with Mary Swindell Hooper Nelson, Phyllis Kuestner, Sister Miriam Corcoran and Phyllis Passafiume. At the end of Lee's life, she suffered horribly from eight years of crushing and debilitating pain due to a car accident she suffered as a teenager, severe scoliosis and osteoporosis.
Lastly, the children of Lee, Cathleen, Donald and Sean, acknowledge with gratitude, the real legacy of their mother. Essentially a small-town girl with big dreams and burning ambition, she was, in many ways, a woman before her time. It was her children who benefited most from her struggles; she imbued each of them with the belief that the world was truly their oyster, as well as the hope that life can always be better. Much like the Rosalind Russell character in His Girl Friday. Lee was loved deeply.
She will be missed by her brother, Charles Kane; nephew, Kevin Kane; grandchildren, Shaelee and Gemma DeCarolis and Rio and Quinn Lujan; and son-in-law, Patrick DeCarolis and Robert Lujan.
To our spirited, defiant, independent, sassy, acerbic Irish Princess: Go n-eiri on bothar leat. Slan agust beannacht leat. May the road rise with you. Goodbye and blessings on you.
A memorial to celebrate her life will be held in the spring. We will welcome all of Lee's Kentucky friends and family. (Details to follow.)
Published in The Courier-Journal on Nov. 18, 2012