Friday, September 18, 2009

Coming Soon: Irna Phillips' Unpublished Autobiography

Doug Moe has published a revealed article in the Wisconsin State Journal about the GUIDING LIGHT finale which includes an interview with Irna Phillips' son, Tom, and the revelation that her unpublished autobriography is in the works.

One of the best stories Tom Phillips remembers about his mother concerned her answer to the question of why she never got married. Irna Phillips adopted Tom in 1941 and his sister a year later.

"Why the hell should I get married?" Irna said. "If I want to get in a fight, I will call those buffoons in Cincinnati."

The buffoons in question were the sponsors for the radio and television soap operas she created and wrote.

GUIDING LIGHT going dark today has sparked renewed interest in Phillips, and as it happens, an abundance of her papers are stored at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison. There are scripts from GUIDING LIGHT and other shows she wrote, as well as correspondence with colleagues, listeners, viewers and advertisers.

Not in Madison yet, but coming soon, is Phillips' unpublished autobiography. Tom discovered it earlier this year in a box after his sister died in Los Angeles. He's read it, and after his wife and kids read it, he plans to send it here. Irna Phillips attended graduate school in speech at UW-Madison in the 1920s, as did Tom - in American history - in the 1960s.

According to Tom, the autobiography reveals his mother's thought process when creating GUIDING LIGHT more than seven decades ago.

Earlier she had created the first soap, PAINTED DREAMS, a feel-good drama about an Irish-American mom imparting homespun wisdom to her daughter.

In her autobiography, Phillips wrote, "I cannot pinpoint when the transition occurred, but somehow along the way I had made up my mind that any writing I did in the future would be based on reality and not fantasy."


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