"Is this Miss K.T. Steven?"
It sho' enough is!" was the cordial but somewhat surprising response the CRIMSON'S Chicago correspondent got when he phoned the Hollywood "honey blonde," of Life magazine fame, who has recently become Eileen in the Chicago company of "My Sister Eileen."
Although for a moment he thought he had been connected with Cindy Lou of the "Kiss the Boys Goodbye" cast, he was promptly assured by K.T. that she really was K.T., had never been south of San Diego, that her reply was merely California exuberance, and that she would give him an interview.
Later, in the unromantic glare of dressing room 2 of Chicago's Harris Theater, the interview had a chance to see what color "honey blonde" really is. All he can say, however, is that it is sort of blonde and very pretty, despite its name. Neither K.T.'s hair nor her unusual first name has been overlooked by Russell Burdwell, see Hollywood press agent who is currently handling the offensive to put her before the cinema and stage-going public.
Its most successful maneuver so far was a full page shot on page 67 of the May 19 issue of Life- a profile of K.T. in black satin trunks and white satin blouse on a California beach, her honey-blonde tresses flowing in the breeze, gazing demurely at the cameraman. It was most effective. The caption road "Slim-legged honey blonde hits 2,252 papers"; photogenic K.T. didn't know if this was hyperbole or not, had kept no box score, could not say how many papers had run the picture.
Nee Gloria Wood
K.T.'s father is Sam Wood, who directed "Kitty Foyle", so her last name was, naturally, Wood. Her first name was Gloria. She claims she didn't like it. At any rate, on April 28, 1941, she went to court to have it changed to K.T. Stevens -Stevens for nothing, K.T. derived from Katherine, which is the name she signs on hotel registers. Her petition was granted, but she will have to wait for a final OK until after July 20, when she'll be 21. K.T. is quite sure no other actress has been smart enough to use initials. She insists it was her own idea, but feels that the picture of childish absorption drawn by a rapt interviewer in the Chicago Daily News of June 7 is a slight exaggeration:
"Her story goes back to a Los Angeles schoolroom where a flaxen haired little girl sat at her desk, busily writing and cheerfully ignoring the fact that she was supposed to be doing lessons. She was making a list of names, writing them down to see how they looked, whispering them softly to see how they sounded, trying to select a new name for herself."
Reads in Bathtub
The observant cinematic will remember K.T., in "Kitty Foyle," as one of Ginger Rogers' roommates who were forced to camp in the bathroom of their one-room apartment while Ginger played double solitaire with James Craig in the living room. K.T. was the girl ensconced in the bathtub with a book. She enjoyed being directed by her father in the picture and wishes she could do so again. "We understand one another perfectly," she says. She will also appear in "Great Man's Lady" soon to be released by M-G-M.
She would prefer, however, to reach success via the stage. Her experience behind the footlights started in 1937 when she played summer stock in Skowhegan, Maine; this was her first and only visit to New England, and she enjoyed it very much. Since then she has toured with "You Can't Take It With You" and "The Man Who Came to Dinner" and filled in the rest of her time with two "quick flops" on Broadway, which, as she very justly observes, "weren't my fault, of course."
Harvard 1,000-Yale .000
K.T. is a true child of Hollywood. Among her earliest memories are toddling as a tat after her father as he directed movie scenes. She was not, however, a child star in the Temple sense, and so had as normal a childhood as it is possible to have in Hollywood. Her juvenile film appearances were limited to a few baby shots and a scene in "Peck's Bad Boy" with Jackie Coogan, in which he stole her ice cream cone.
As to social life, Miss Stevens (Wood) is not especially partial to glamor boys, and says her only "must" for an escort is a sense of humor. She stated with evident satisfaction that she had never been out with a Yale man; as the positive phase of a wise social policy, she has dated a Harvard man, Frank Appleton '39: "We had a swell time," she said. "But I wouldn't go to one of those Lampoon parties for anything ," she concluded. The CRIMSON reporter congratulated her on her good judgment.