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Jean Rouverol Butler


1916 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Jean Rouverol Butler Obituary
July 8, 1916 - March 24, 2017 Writer and actress Jean Rouverol died on March 24 in Wingdale, NY, at the age of 100. She was the daughter of playwright Aurania Ellerbeck and Joseph Rouverol. Aurania Rouverol, who originated the Andy Hardy series, guided her daughter into an acting career at an early age. As a film actress, Jean appeared as W.C. Fields' daughter in It's a Gift (1934). She also had roles in Private Worlds (1935) with Claudette Colbert, and Stage Door (1937) with Katharine Hepburn. She played opposite Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy in, respectively, Western Jamboree (1938) and Bar 20 Rides Again (1935). She also played Betty Carter on One Man's Family, the long-running radio soap opera. In 1940 Jean married screenwriter Hugo Butler, with whom she had six children. In addition to developing her own writing career, Jean collaborated frequently with Hugo until his untimely death in 1968. She and Hugo co-wrote the screenplays for, among others, Paul Henreid's So Young So Bad (1950), Irvin Kershner's Face in the Rain (1963), and two films for director Robert Aldrich, Autumn Leaves (1956) and cult favorite The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968). Both Jean and Hugo, responding to the economic collapse of the 1930s, joined the Communist Party in 1943. With the rise of McCarthyism in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Hugo Butler was subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Faced with a choice of naming names to HUAC or doing jail time like the Hollywood Ten, they fled to Mexico with their first four children (two additional children were born there). In Mexico, they had to endure FBI surveillance and were forced to write under pseudonyms, but they managed to eke out a living during the blacklist era doing what they loved, writing for film. During these years, they wrote Autumn Leaves, the 1956 Joan Crawford drama, and Face in the Rain. While in Mexico, Jean continued to write for publication in U.S. magazines, and also completed a book on Harriet Beecher Stowe. In 1960, they moved to Rome for two years while Hugo worked on film scripts, including Joseph Losey's Eva. They returned to Mexico in 1962 and finally moved back to the US permanently in 1964. In Hollywood after Hugo's death, Jean began writing for soap operas in order to support herself and the three children remaining at home. She wrote for Search for Tomorrow, As the World Turns, and Guiding Light until her retirement in 1976. She went on to publish Writing for Soaps (1964) and taught courses on soap opera writing at USC. In this same period, she also wrote three young adult biographies and a gothic novel. A founding member of the Writers Guild of America, she served four terms on the board of the Health and Pension plan of the Producer-Writers Guild of America, and in 1987 received the Guild's Morgan Cox Award. She was also for many years a member of the documentary nominating committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In the year 2000 at the age of eighty-two she published Refugees from Hollywood, a memoir of the Blacklist and her family's life in Mexico. In 2005, at age 87, Jean fell in love with a colleague from her days in radio, Cliff Carpenter. They shared a rich history of acting and progressive politics and spent a decade together living in Pawling, N.Y., participating in Old Time Radio conventions, spending time in Mexico, and occasionally alarming Jean's children with their thirst for adventure. Cliff predeceased Jean in 2014. Jean spent the last year of her life in the loving home of caregiver Crystal Neithardt and her family. Crystal was by her side when Jean passed gently away. She is survived by her son Michael Butler, and daughters Susan Butler, Mary Butler, Emily McCoy, Deborah Spiegelman and Becky Butler, and by eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Mar. 27 to Mar. 28, 2017
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