Ilka Chase

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Ilka Chase
Ilka Chase in Now Voyager trailer.jpg
Chase in Now, Voyager (1942)
Born(1905-04-08)April 8, 1905
New York City, U.S.
DiedFebruary 15, 1978(1978-02-15) (aged 72)
Mexico City, Mexico
  • Actress
  • radio host
  • novelist
Years active1923–1972
(m. 1926; div. 1927)
William Murray
(m. 1935; div. 1946)
Norton Sager Brown
(m. 1946)
ParentEdna Woolman Chase

Ilka Chase (April 8, 1905 – February 15, 1978)[1] was an American actress, radio host, and novelist.


Born in New York City and educated at convent and boarding schools in the United States, England, and France, Chase was the only child of Francis Dane Chase, a merchant mariner who became a dry goods salesman and then the general manager of New York's Hotel Colonial, and the former Edna Woolman Allaway, known as Edna Woolman Chase, an editor. Her mother, who became the editor-in-chief of Vogue, described Chase's father, whom she married in 1902, as "a lovable, good-looking, irresponsible young man from Boston. His father had been a banker, and depending on when you met them, the family had money."[2] After her parents' divorce, her father married artist Theodora Larsh (1887–1955). Her mother's second husband was engineer Richard Newton.

After graduating from France's Château de Groslay boarding school, Chase made her society debut in December 1923 at a large dinner and dance, held in her honor and hosted by her mother at the Cosmopolitan Club in New York City. The 250 guests included her mother's employer, Condé Nast, Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Frank Crowninshield, artist Abram Poole and his wife, Mercedes de Acosta, interior decorators Ruby Ross Goodnow and Nancy McClelland, artist Albert Sterner, future Harper's Bazaar editor-in-chief Carmel Snow, British nobleman and pilot Viscount Holmesdale, architect Harrie T. Lindeberg, and fashion designer Adrian.[3]


Chase (left) in the Broadway stage production Small Miracle (1934)

Chase's Broadway debut occurred in 1924 in The Red Falcon.[4] Her stage appearances included roles in Days Without End, Forsaking All Others, While Parents Sleep, Small Miracle, On to Fortune, Tampico, Co-Respondent Unknown, Keep Off the Grass, and In Bed We Cry, an adaptation of her novel of the same name. She was in the original Broadway cast of Clare Boothe Luce's play The Women (1938), and many years later appeared in Neil Simon's Broadway hit Barefoot in the Park.[5]


Her films included Fast and Loose (1930), The Animal Kingdom (1932), Now, Voyager (1942), Once a Sinner (1950), and The Big Knife (1955). Her last motion picture was in Ocean's 11 (1960) as Mrs. Restes.


In the early 1940s, Chase was the hostess for Penthouse Party on CBS[6] and Luncheon Date With Ilka Chase, on NBC Red.[7] For several years, she hosted the radio program Luncheon at the Waldorf.


Chase appeared as a panelist on several programs in the early years of television, including Celebrity Time (1949–50), Who Said That? (1950–55), and Masquerade Party (1952–56). She hosted the 1950–51 TV series Fashion Magic.[citation needed]

In 1957, Chase performed the role of the Stepmother in the television production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, which starred Julie Andrews. In 1963, she made a rare television sitcom appearance as Aunt Pauline on The Patty Duke Show.[citation needed]

Chase was a regular in The Trials of O'Brien on CBS in the mid-1960s.[8]


Her novel In Bed We Cry appeared in 1943[9] and was adapted for the stage, with Chase in the leading role.

Her autobiography Past Imperfect (volume I), in which she wrote, "Those who never fail are those who never try," was published in 1942, and Free Admission (volume II) was published in 1948. She also wrote more than a dozen other books, including The Care and Feeding of Friends, a guide to lighthearted entertaining with over 80 recipes and 20 menus.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Chase was married to:

  • Louis Calhern (1895–1956), the stage and movie actor. Chase and Calhern met while performing in summer stock with the George Cukor Company in Rochester, New York, married in June 1926, and divorced six months later, in February 1927.
  • William Buckley Murray (1889–1949), a former music critic of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle and onetime executive of NBC. He also had been a concert manager for the Baldwin Piano Company and became the head of radio and television at the William Morris Agency. In 1932, Chase and Murray adapted We Are No Longer Children, a play by French playwright Leopold Marchand. They married on 13 July 1935, in Greenwich, Connecticut, and divorced in Las Vegas, Nevada, on 4 December 1946.[10] By this marriage, she had one stepson, William Buckley Murray, Jr., a crime novelist and writer for The New Yorker, who was Murray's only child by his previous wife, Natalia Danesi, an opera singer and lover of Janet Flanner. Murray's third wife was interior decorator Florence Smolen.
  • Norton Sager Brown (1904–1995), a physician. Chase and Brown divorced their spouses so they could be married on 7 December 1946, in Las Vegas, Nevada.[11] They remained married until her death in 1978. By this marriage, Chase had a stepson, James Brown.


Chase died of internal hemorrhaging on February 14, 1978, in Mexico City, Mexico. She was 72. [12] She was buried beside her mother in Locust Valley Cemetery.[13]

Reference materials[edit]

Chase's personal papers, as well as those of her mother, are in the Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library.[14]


Year Title Role Notes
1929 Paris Bound Fanny Shipman based on the 1927 play Paris Bound, in which Chase was a member of the cast
1929 Why Leave Home? Ethel
1929 The Careless Age Bunty
1929 Red Hot Rhythm Mrs. Fioretta
1929 Rich People Margery Mears
1929 South Sea Rose Maid
1930 Let's Go Places Mrs. Du Bonnet
1930 The Big Party
1930 Her Golden Calf Comedienne
1930 Born Reckless High Society Customer at Beretti's
1930 The Florodora Girl Fanny
1930 On Your Back Dixie Mason
1930 Fast and Loose Millie Montgomery
1930 Free Love Pauline
1931 Once a Sinner Kitty King
1931 The Gay Diplomat Madame Blinis
1932 The Animal Kingdom Grace
1936 Soak the Rich Mrs. Mabel Craig
1936 The Lady Consents Susan
1939 Stronger Than Desire Jo Brennan
1942 Now, Voyager Lisa Vale
1943 No Time for Love Hoppy Grant
1948 Miss Tatlock's Millions Cassie Van Alen
1954 It Should Happen to You Guest Panel #2
1954 Johnny Dark Abbie Binns
1955 The Big Knife Patty Benedict
1960 Ocean's 11 Mrs. Restes



  • Chase, Ilka (1943). In bed we cry.
  • Chase, Ilka (1951). New York 22.


  • Chase, Ilka. The care and feeding of friends.


  • Chase, Ilka (1942). Past imperfect.
  • — (1948). Free admission.

Essays and reporting[edit]

  • Chase, Ilka (1953). "It was good enough for Father". In Birmingham, Frederic A. (ed.). The girls from Esquire. London: Arthur Barker. pp. 129–135.

Critical studies and reviews of Chase's work[edit]

In bed we cry


  1. ^ Birth year of 1905 cited in 1910 U.S. Federal Census for New York City, accessed on on 5 April 2017. Birth year also cited on Chase's passport applications, the earliest being 1921, when she was 15, the age she states, giving her birthdate at 8 April 1905
  2. ^ Chase, Edna Woolman; Chase, Ilka (1954). Always in Vogue. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. p. 40. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  3. ^ "Miss Ilka Chase Makes Her Debut". The New York Times. 18 December 1923, page 19, column 1.
  4. ^ "Ilka Chase's 'Penthouse Party' New WHP Summer Program". Harrisburg Telegraph. June 7, 1941. p. 26. Retrieved May 5, 2015 – via
  5. ^ Ilka Chase at the Internet Broadway Database
  6. ^ "Ilka Chase 'Penthouse Party' Heard Half-Hour Earlier". Harrisburg Telegraph. June 21, 1941. p. 26. Retrieved May 5, 2015 – via
  7. ^ Burr, Eugene (February 14, 1942). "Program Reviews: 'Luncheon Date With Ilka Chase'" (PDF). Billboard. p. 8. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  8. ^ "EX-Mother-in-Law Is OK!". The Berkshire Eagle. Pittsfield, Massachusetts. October 9, 1965. p. 19. Retrieved May 5, 2015 – via
  9. ^ Wylie, Philip (November 7, 1943). "Gleanings from the Crop of Fall Novels: Cafe Society Amours". The New York Times. Retrieved December 25, 2020.
  10. ^ "Ilka Chase Married to William B. Murray". The New York Times. 14 July 1935. page 74.
  11. ^ "Ilka Chase Wed in Nevada", The New York Times, 8 December 1946
  12. ^ "Ilka Chase, Act'ress and Author, 72, is Dead in Mexico". The New York Times. 16 February 1978.
  13. ^ Wilson, Scott (22 August 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. ISBN 9780786479924.
  14. ^ "Ilka Chase papers". New York Public Library. Retrieved March 29, 2022.

External links[edit]