July 8, 1916 |
St. Louis, Missouri, US
|Other names||Jean Rouveral|
|Occupation||Author, actress and screenwriter|
|Spouse(s)||Hugo Butler (1940–68) (his death)|
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she is the daughter of playwright Aurania Rouverol (1886–1955), who created Andy Hardy and wrote many of the films in the MGM series. After being spotted in a high school production, Rouverol first acted in a Hollywood motion picture at the age of seventeen, appearing as W. C. Fields daughter in the comedy It's a Gift (1934). She continued to perform mainly in supporting roles, making another eleven films until 1940 when she married screenwriter Hugo Butler.
With four children coming in quick order, Rouverol did not return to film acting but throughout the 1940s performed on radio, including playing Betty Carter on One Man's Family. While her husband was away serving in the U.S. military during World War II, Rouverol wrote her first novella which she sold to McCall's magazine in 1945. By 1950, she had her first screenplay made into a film, but her career was interrupted as a result of the investigations by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) into Communist influence in Hollywood.
In 1943, Rouverol and her husband had joined the American Communist Party. In 1951, when agents for HUAC attempted to subpoena them, Rouverol and her husband chose self-exile to Mexico with their four small children rather than face a possible prison sentence as endured by some of their friends who were dubbed the 'Hollywood Ten'. Labeled as subversives and dangerous revolutionaries by the U.S., government, they did not return to the United States on a permanent basis for thirteen years, during which time they had two more children.
While in exile, Rouverol continued to write screenplays. She also wrote short stories and articles for various American magazines to help earn money. Three screenplays she co-wrote with her husband were accepted for filming by the Hollywood studios because agent Ingo Preminger (brother of director Otto Preminger) arranged for friends from the Writers Guild of America to put their names on the scripts.
In 1960 the family moved to Italy so Rouverol and her husband could work on a film script. After a few years, in 1964 they briefly lived in Mexico again, and then returned to the United States for good. Living in California again, she and her husband continued their screenplay collaboration. She also wrote a book on Harriet Beecher Stowe. However, her husband was diagnosed with arteriosclerotic brain disease and died in 1968.
In the 1970s, Rouverol returned to writing. She scripted an episode of Little House on the Prairie, and after publishing three books in three years, she was hired as co-head writer for the CBS soap opera Guiding Light. For this show she received a Daytime Emmy nomination and a Writers Guild of America Award. Rouverol, by then sixty years old, left the show in 1976. In 1984 Jean authored "Writing for the Soaps." She taught writing at the University of Southern California and at UCLA Extension. She also wrote scripts for Search for Tomorrow and As the World Turns.
Rouverol served four terms on the board of directors of the Writers Guild of America and in 1987 she received the Guild's Morgan Cox Award as a member "whose vital ideas, continuing efforts and personal sacrifice" best exemplified the ideal of service to the guild.
In 2000, the very active eighty-four-year-old Rouverol published Refugees from Hollywood: A Journal of the Blacklist Years, that told the story of her family's life in exile.
- It's a Gift (1934)
- Bar 20 Rides Again (1935)
- Mississippi (1935) (uncredited)
- Private Worlds (1935)
- Fatal Lady (1936)
- The Leavenworth Case (1936)
- Stage Door (1937)
- The Road Back (1937)
- Western Jamboree (1938)
- The Law West of Tombstone (1938)
- Annabel Takes a Tour (1938)
- Jack Pot (1940)
- So Young So Bad (1950)
- The New Pioneers (1950)
- The First Time (1952) (uncredited)
- Autumn Leaves (1956) (front Jack Jevne)
- The Miracle (1959) (originally uncredited)
- Face in the Rain (1963)
- The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968)
- Harriet Beecher Stowe: Woman Crusader (1968)
- Pancho Villa: a biography (1972)
- Juárez, a son of the people (1973)
- Storm Wind Rising (1974)
- Writing for the soaps (1984)
- Refugees from Hollywood: A Journal of the Blacklist Years (2000)
- Daniel Bubbeo The women of Warner Brothers: the lives and careers of 15 leading ladies, McFarland & Company, 2001, p.57
- "Of local origin.". New York Times. July 10, 1950. "Bernard Vorhaus directed the United Artists release from a screen play he wrote with Hugo Butler and Jean Rouverol. "The New Pioneers," a new film on Israel ..."