Jean Rouverol

Jean Rouverol
Born (1916-07-08) July 8, 1916
St. Louis, Missouri, US
Other names Jean Rouveral
Occupation Author, actress and screenwriter
Years active 1934–2009
Spouse(s) Hugo Butler (1940–1968; his death); 6 children

Jean Rouverol (born July 8, 1916) is an American author, actress and screenwriter who was blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studios in the 1950s.

Life and career

Rouverol was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of playwright Aurania Rouverol[1] (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, she 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.

American Communist Party/HUAC

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 government, they did not return to the United States on a permanent basis for thirteen years, during which time they had two more children.

In Mexico, she continued to write screenplays, short stories and articles for various American magazines to 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, Rouverol (aged 84) published Refugees from Hollywood: A Journal of the Blacklist Years, which told the story of her family's life in exile.


In 2012, Jean Rouverol lived with actor Cliff Carpenter, who was another former blacklisted performer, since several years.[2] Carpenter died in 2014, aged 98. She turned 100 in July 2016.[3]





  1. Daniel Bubbeo The women of Warner Brothers: the lives and careers of 15 leading ladies, McFarland & Company, 2001, p.57
  2. "Blacklisted: Portraits of 7 Writers and Actors Who Defied Hollywood". The Hollywood Reporter. 2012-11-19. Retrieved 2014-03-01.
  3. Sam Plank (2016-05-02). "9 Last Surviving Cast Members from Some Classic Films". Retrieved 2016-11-25.
  4. "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...
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