Turney, Catherine

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Catherine Turney was a screenwriter in the 1940's and early 1950's known for her strong female characters.

From the description of Mildred Pierce screenplay drafts and related letters, 1944. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 374374516

Author and screenwriter, Catherine Turney (1906-1998), whose credits include co-authorship of the screenplay for James Cains's novel, Mildred Pierce and author of Byron's Daughter: A Biography of Elizabeth Medora Leigh, was for many years a companion of painter Lenard Kester. Turney was among the first women screenwriters to break into the Hollywood studio system. She was also associated with the California scene painters who had gravitated to the Chouinard Art Insititue in the late 1920s and 1930s. An active researcher, writer, and reader at the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif. Turney died September 9, 1998 in Sierra Madre, Calif.

From the description of Photographs and a catalog of Lenard Kester, [ca. 1958]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 83551882

Catherine Turney was born on December 26, 1906 in Chicago. Her family moved to Pasadena in 1921. She graduated from Bishop's School of La Jolla, California in 1924. After graduation, Turney attended the Columbia School of Journalism for a year where she took courses in playwriting, stage work, and short story writing. Due to illness, Catherine Turney returned to Pasadena where, in 1928, she began classes at the Pasadena Community Playhouse under the direction of Gilmore Brown. It was here that she began writing plays for production on stage. Her first play, "Bitter Harvest" about Lord Byron's alleged incestuous affair and daughter, was performed locally in 1933. In 1936, the play was opened in London starring Eric Portman and was soon hailed a success. She also wrote plays and programs for radio in the 1930s. She married Cyril E. Armbrister in 1931 and they divorced in 1938. She married Clifford Guthrie "George" Reynolds on February 18, 1940 and they divorced in 1949. After two unsuccessful marriages, Turney never married again, but she did have a long-term relationship with California artist Lenard Kester.

Her success with "Bitter Harvest" prompted MGM to offer her a writing contract for 1936-1937. She went back to the stage in 1937, writing "My Dear Children" with Jerry Horwin, starring John Barrymore, and other plays that were produced in Chicago and New York. World War II brought a shortage of writers in Hollywood and Warner Bros. story editor Jim Geller offered her a contract in 1943. At Warner Bros., Turney developed a reputation for being a woman's writer and wrote for Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, and Joan Crawford. She went back to MGM in 1948, but is not credited for her work there. She wrote three movies independently in the 1950s, "No Man of her Own" for Paramount Pictures, "Japanese War Bride" for Joseph Bernhard Productions Inc., and "Back from the Dead" for Emirau Productions Inc. From the late 1950s to the early 1960s, Turney wrote for television. Her credits include, "Maverick," "General Hospital," "Alcoa Presents," and "The Wonderful World of Disney." In the late 1950s she turned her attention to fiction and biographies. Her first novel, The other one, was published in 1952 and was made into a motion picture in 1957. Her most famous published work, published in 1974, is her biography of Elizabeth Medora Leigh, the third daughter of Augusta Leigh and the reputed daughter of Lord Byron. Titled, Byron's daughter, Turney spent years researching, writing, and then defending her first scholarly work. Despite her prolific writing in a variety of mediums, Catherine Turney spent much of her life suffering from financial troubles. She did, however, have a great many friends who admired and respected her. She died in 1998.

From the description of Papers of Catherine Turney, 1761-1998 (bulk 1934-1985). (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 385441649

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Turney, Catherine. Mildred Pierce screenplay drafts and related letters, 1944. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Turney, Catherine. Papers of Catherine Turney, 1761-1998 (bulk 1934-1985). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Maibaum, Richard. Papers (part 2), 1932-1991. University of Iowa Libraries
creatorOf Greene, Graham, 1904-1991. "Studio one" -- "England made me" / by Graham Greene. Bowling Green State University, BGSU Libraries
creatorOf Photographs and a catalog of Lenard Kester Archives of American Art
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Ankrum, Joan. person
associatedWith Baddeley, Hermione, 1908-1986. person
associatedWith Barrymore, Elaine Barrie. person
associatedWith Barrymore, John, 1882-1942. person
associatedWith Berman, L.E. person
associatedWith Box, Muriel, 1905-. person
associatedWith Breen, Joseph Ignatius, 1890-1965 person
associatedWith Brown, Gilmor, 1886 or 7-1960. person
associatedWith Burke, Shirley. person
associatedWith Byron, George Gordon Byron, Baron, 1788-1824. person
associatedWith Byron Society. American Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Charles Scribner's Sons. corporateBody
associatedWith Collier, John, 1901-1980. person
associatedWith Columbia Broadcasting System, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Columbia Pictures Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Crawford, Joan, 1908-1977. person
associatedWith Dubuc de Rivery, Aimée, 1776-1817. person
associatedWith Horwin, Jerry. person
associatedWith Josephine, Empress, consort of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, 1763-1814. person
associatedWith KABC-TV (Television station : Hollywood, Los Angeles, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Kester, Lenard, 1917- person
associatedWith KHJ-TV (Television station : Los Angeles, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Langton, Paul, 1913-1980. person
associatedWith Leigh, Augusta, 1784-1851. person
associatedWith Leigh, Elizabeth Medora, 1814-1849. person
associatedWith Longstreet, Stephen, 1907-2002. person
associatedWith MacDougall, Ranald person
associatedWith Maibaum, Richard. person
associatedWith Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. corporateBody
associatedWith Motion Picture Association of America. Production Code Administration. corporateBody
associatedWith Pasadena Playhouse Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Portman, Eric, 1903-1969. person
associatedWith Scott, Virginia Steele. person
associatedWith Screen Writers' Guild, corporateBody
associatedWith Scribner, Charles, 1921-1995. person
associatedWith Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851. person
associatedWith Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 1792-1822. person
associatedWith Stanwyck, Barbara, 1907-1990. person
associatedWith Wald, Jerry, 1911-1962 person
associatedWith Warner Bros. corporateBody
associatedWith Warner Bros. Pictures (1923-1967). Research Dept. person
associatedWith Warner, Jack L., 1892-1965 person
associatedWith Washington, George, 1732-1799. person
associatedWith Washington, Martha, 1731-1802. person
associatedWith Writers Guild of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Writers Guild of America, West. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Women authors, American
Literary agents
Motion picture plays


Birth 1906-12-26

Death 1998-09-09



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