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"Jack was absolutely terrified of horses, so a stunt
man was used for the riding scenes whenever
possible. But they had to have some close-ups, so
they physically lifted Jack onto his horse. He was
sitting there uncomfortably, when all of a sudden the
horse he was on realized that MY little horse was a
mare... and she was interesting! Jack's horse came
up and butted mine, and my horse took off. The
horse that Jack was on followed, and literally ran
away. Jack didn't know what to grab... when they
finally caught up with him, his arms were practically
around the horse's neck. They lifted him off, and I've
never seen anybody barf the way he did!"
More movies followed in the early 1940s. Then, in
late 1942, Kay was cast in the third movie Lum and
Abner were filming for RKO: Two Weeks to Live.
Once again portraying a villain, Kay appeared as the
beautiful but deadly Mrs. Carmen, whose charms
and come-hither glances made Lum into Silly Putty
in her hands. Visiting Chicago, Abner (mistakenly
involved with improving the quality of the hogs back
in Arkansas?' I asked. And they said, 'THAT'S where
we remember that Linaker name!!'" (Once she had
refreshed their memories it must have set off a spark,
because a couple of years later, in a 1944 radio
episode, Lum and Cedric discuss the fact that
Abner's papa Phinus "started that feud twixt the
McDaniels and the Linakers." According to Kay, Mr.
McDaniel was one of the first farmers the fathers
dealt with on their long-ago hog project, so this was
probably an inside joke about Rome Goff and that
Two Weeks to Live was released in February 1943,
and would prove to be one of the last times
moviegoers would see the lovely Kay Linaker on the
screen. With World War II in full swing, she left acting
to work for the American Red Cross, and shortly
after the war she married a writer, Howard Phillips.
(She prefers to be known as Kate Phillips today,
rather than as Kay Linaker.) The husband-and-wife
Phillips team wrote many radio and TV program
episodes on a freelance basis, including installments
of The Loretta Young Show, Lassie, Dr. Kildare, and
As a solo writer, Kate Phillips was approached to
draft a screenplay for what was to be a low-budget
horror film concerning a mass of jelly-like material
that came from outer space and consumed human
flesh upon contact. The Blob, as it came to be
known, remains a terrific example of the 1950s
drive-in-movie style thriller, and served as the screen
debut for one of Kate's discoveries, Steve McQueen.
Kate and McQueen each got $150 for their
contributions to The Blob, and when the producers
sold the film to Paramount for a million bucks, they
were supposed to get a cut of that. They didn't.
Kate, though, is philosophical: "At least I got a credit
out of it," she shrugs.
During the 1960s Kate began a third career as a
teacher, instruction students in the New
Hampshire/Ontario region in the finer points of acting
and scriptwriting. Howard Phillips passed away in
1986, but Kate continues her teaching activities
today. At this year's NLAS Convention, she was
presented with one of two 1998 Lum and Abner
Memorial Awards in belated recognition of her
contribution to L&A history, and performed in a
newly-written script that brought the vengeful Mrs.
Carmen back to Pine Ridge to try to bump off the two
bumbling old storekeepers.
- Tim Hollis
thinking he has only 14 days before his demise) is
unwillingly hiring out to do dangerous, high-paying
jobs in order to pay back a debt he and Lum owe to
the folks back in Pine Ridge. Mrs. Carmen appears
on the scene to say that she will pay him to spend
the night in a haunted house, where anyone who
goes to sleep in a certain room never wakes up
again. She wants to prove that this is a false rumor
so she can sell the house. Even though five
previous victims have supposedly tried this stunt,
Abner is assured there is nothing to worry about: "It
was all just their imagination," says Mrs. Carmen.
Replies Abner with a dour expression: "Jist their
maginations, huh? I guess they jist magine they're
We quickly learn that behind Mrs. Carmen's beauty
lurks a sinister plot. Her husband is an inventor, and
the two of them have cooked up a plan to defraud his
life insurance company. Mrs. Carmen will send
Abner to the specified address with a violin case
containing a time bomb. "When THAT goes off, no
one will know WHO he was, she gloats. "Everyone
will think one of your experiments exploded,
especially when they find your identification bracelet
on him. I'll act like a widow, collect the insurance,
and meet you in six months." Needless to say, due
to Abner's usual ineptitude her plan does not work
and he instead blows up a den of Nazi saboteurs.
While sitting around between scenes, Kay, Chet, and
Tuffy started discussing their backgrounds. "They
told me, 'We don't know why, but we feel like we
know you,'" she says. "I told them that the names
Lauck and Goff were awfully familiar to me as well.
Then, I had an idea. 'Were your fathers ever
|UPDATES: Kay Linaker a.k.a. Kate Phillips passed away in 2008. The National Lum and Abner Society
wishes to extend sincere condolences to the family and friends of "Miss Kate."
We were honored with her presence as a convention guest three times (1998, 2003 and 2005).