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Dorothy (Wright) Cooper-Foote  

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Last Updated: Sep 13, 2016 URL: http://libguides.usd.edu/cooper Print Guide RSS Updates

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Collection Summary

Title Dorothy (Wright) Cooper-Foote
Span Dates 1912-2000
Bulk Dates (bulk dates, 1900-2004)
Quantity 10 linear ft.
Printed Material Printed Materials are located in Box 1-Box 5.
Location     Archives and Special Collections, University Libraries, University of South Dakota.

         Dorothy Christy Wright was born on September 30, 1911, to Harry and Jessie (Christy) Wright in Vermillion, South Dakota.  Her father was the Vermillion postmaster and their residence was at 415 East   Clark Street, across from Slagle Hall, which eventually became the home of University of South Dakota (USD) political science professor, Dr. William O. Farber. Dorothy majored in journalism while attending USD, was a member of the Chi Omega sorority, and edited the Wet Hen, a campus humor magazine.  She gained notoriety for creating the “Kissable Lips” contest while on campus.  Some administrators, state regents, and faculty took offense to the contest, stating that it violated rules of ethics and morality for the time period.  She graduated from USD in 1933 and moved to California where she began working as a telephone operator at Universal Studios.  Dorothy then showed initiative four years later by writing a letter to Val Paul, a producer, stating that she was interested in writing, and the bold move to get a promotion was successful. She was an extra in the 15 episode movie serial, Flaming Frontiers(1938), starring Johnny Mack Brown.  She was soon appointed as an assistant script editor.  Dorothy moved her way up the studio ranks, and eventually she began to write screenplays for movies. Her first motion picture screenplay was A Date with Judy (1948), a MGM musical in Technicolor starring Jane Powell, Wallace Berry, Carmen Miranda, and Elizabeth Taylor that was soon followed by four other musicals starring such notable celebrities as Esther Williams, June Allyson, Van Johnson, Jimmy Durante, and Ricardo Montalban--On an Island with You(1948), Small Town Girl (1953), Duchess of Idaho(1950), and Rich, Young and Pretty (1951). With the advent of television in the 1950s, Dorothy began to write screenplays for television sitcoms.  She wrote the pilot episode for Father Knows Best, and won numerous awards for this series, including the Sylvania Award for outstanding achievement in creative television technique.  She received two Emmy Award writing nominations and won the Television-Radio Writers Award for An Old Flame, the best script for episodic comedy in 1959-1960.  Dorothy also continued to write for such sitcoms as My Three Sons, Hazel, Gidget, Love on a Rooftop, and The Flying Nun during the 1960s.  Dorothy returned to Vermillion in 1964 when the University of South Dakota named her the honorary marshal for the Dakota Days parade. After retiring in the late 1970s, she remained active by writing two musical plays (This is Heaven? and Scots on the Rock), working with charitable organizations, serving as a judge for screenwriters’ contests, and acting as a consultant on various manuscripts for other writers.  
      Dorothy was married three times; her first two marriages were to G. Leslie Cooper and Paul R. Cerf.  She then married Robert “Bob” Foote, a prominent Los Angeles surgeon and medical school professor, on October 6, 1956.  Dr. Foote was a graduate of Alfred University in Alfred, New York, and received his medical degree from the College of Medicine of the State University of New York in Brooklyn.  The couple set up residences in Bakersfield, Malibu, Dana Point, and Palm Desert in California, and they particularly enjoyed sailing on their boat, The Libertine.    Dorothy loved dogs, and throughout her life, canines were always her constant companions.  In the 1970s and 1980s, she and her husband owned Great Danes, the last of which was named “Rhett Butler.”  Dorothy (Wright) Cooper Foote died on at the age of 93 on November 26, 2004, at her home in Palm Desert.  Her husband died on April 5, 2002

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