Kay Ashton-Stevens papers
Scope and Content of the Collection
Documents and audiovisual materials reflecting the life and career of Kay Ashton-Stevens and also of her husband, Ashton Stevens.
Correspondence, between and including Kay Ashton-Stevens, family and friends, and also between Kay Ashton-Stevens and many of her husband's friends, fan mail, and work related correspondence; materials pertaining to her various career incarnations, including radio and television scripts, surveys and statistics from Zenith Radio Corporation, drafts and notes of an unfinished biography of Ashton Stevens, speeches, and other writing; personal materials including papers regarding her education, acting career, and household finances, documents concerning a 1953 airplane accident and subsequent lawsuit, and notebooks she kept while caring for her invalid husband during the last years of his life; photographs including professional portraits, photos of friends and family; audio materials including open reel tapes and glass base acetate transcription discs of radio shows.
- Creation: 1905-1978
- Stevens, Kay Ashton (Person)
Materials are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The Kay Ashton-Stevens papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Kay Ashton-Stevens papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.
Biography of Kay Ashton-Stevens
Chicago actress, radio and television personality, wife of critic Ashton Stevens.
Kay Ashton-Stevens, born Katherine Florence Krug in 1905, was most well known as the second wife of theatre critic Ashton Stevens. She herself had a long and varied career with many of the ups and downs reflective of working women of her time. Her theatre career began with the Goodman Repertory Company where she had four years' training and appeared in many productions. She received generally positive notices while going through a myriad of stage names including Florence Krug, Florence Catlyn, and Katherine Krug, settling finally on Kay Ashton-Stevens after her marriage.
Kay Ashton-Stevens married Ashton Stevens, 33 years her senior, in 1927. During the early years of the marriage she continued to audition for parts in Chicago and New York and appeared in at least one Broadway production. In the late 1930s her husband suffered a series of debilitating health problems and she abandoned the theatre to care for him and assist with his writing. Even with these setbacks, she continued to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, hosting the radio programs "Movie Personalities," "Chats Across the Table," and "Luncheon at the Camellia House." the latter two of which she also wrote and produced.
Kay Ashton-Stevens was left in poor financial shape after her husband's death in 1951 due to his numerous medical bills, and she struggled to find steady employment. During the 1950s she was involved in several short-lived radio and television programs including "Free For All", "Polks Pictorial", the "Kay Ashton-Stevens Show", and a game show called "Mad-Grams." Unfortunately, the programs failed to catch on and she was forced to look for work elsewhere, eventually landing in public relations at the Zenith Radio Corporation. At Zenith she was part of the push to sell Phonevision, an early precursor to cable television. After leaving Zenith, she went through a series of freelance public relations jobs and lectured on the theatre. Her last position was in sales at Reuben H. Donnelly selling yellow page advertising.
Kay never remarried and died in 1982.
20 Linear Feet (36 boxes and 1 oversize box)
Correspondence, personal and career related materials, photographs, and audiovisual materials of Chicago actress, television and radio personality, and wife of critic Ashton Stevens, Kay Ashton-Stevens.
Papers are organized in the following series
- Series 1: Correspondence, 1910-1978
- Boxes 1-9
- Series 2: Career, 1935-approximately 1970s
- Boxes 10-25
- Series 3: Personal, 1905-1977
- Boxes 26-33
- Series 4: Photographs, approximately 1909-1964
- Box 34
- Series 5: Audiovisual, 1942-1944
- Boxes 35-36
Conditions Governing Audiovisual Access
Audiovisual recordings in this collection have not been digitized and are unavailable for use at this time.
Collection Stack Location
1 32 6-7; 1 45 3
Bequest of Kay Ashton-Stevens, 1982.
Lisa Janssen, Kelly Kress, and Shannon Yule, 2007.
This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Genre / Form
- Audiotapes -- 1951-2000
- Correspondence -- 1901-1950
- Correspondence -- 1951-2000
- Phonograph records -- 1901-1950
- Photographs -- 1901-1950
- Photographs -- 1951-2000
- Radio scripts -- 1901-1950
- Inventory of the Kay Ashton-Stevens papers, 1905-1978
- Lisa Janssen, Kelly Kress, and Shannon Yule
- Language of description
- Script of description