Kate Phillips, the dark-haired beauty from Pine Bluff who appeared in over 50 movies and later went on to write the 1950s B-movie classic "The Blob," has died. Phillips' friend Carole McNeely of Tillsonburg, Ontario -- who met and befriended the actress and her husband during one of their yearly vacations to Canada -- said that Phillips died last Friday of heart failure at her home in Keene, New Hampshire.
Born Katherine Linaker on July 19, 1913 in Pine Bluff, Phillips moved to New York after high school and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Eventual roles on Broadway landed her a screen contract, and she appeared in a string of films, including "Drums Along the Mohawk," "Young Mr. Lincoln," and five Charlie Chan films. After her marriage to singer and writer Howard Phillips, Linaker, now calling herself as Kate Phillips, began writing for the fledgling medium of television. Asked to write the screenplay for a monster from outer space film, Phillips was paid $125 for penning "The Blob." (The original trailer is shown above.)
Starring a young Steve McQueen, the 1958 film has since become a horror classic of the Cold War era. Up until two years ago, Phillips taught screenwriting at Keene State College in New Hampshire, and for awhile held the title of the oldest practicing college professor in New England.
"She reached out to everyone," McNeely said of her friend. "There were no holds barred."