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CRAVENS, KATHRYN COCHRAN

CRAVENS, KATHRYN COCHRAN (1898–1991). Kathryn Cochran Cravens, radio personality and actress, was born in Burkett, Texas, on October 27, 1898, the daughter of John Calvin and Rose Ann (Hudson) Cochran. Her father was a rural physician in Coleman County, and her mother worked at the local post office. Kathryn studied at the Horner Institute of Fine Arts in Kansas City, Missouri; Henry Kendall College (now the University of Tulsa) in Tulsa; Morse School of Expression in St. Louis; and New York University. In 1919 she began her career as an actress with Fox Films in Hollywood. Throughout the 1920s she worked in silent films, stock theater companies, and radio theater. In 1922 she married Rutherford Rector Cravens; the couple was divorced in 1937.

In 1928 a St. Louis station hired Kathryn Cravens as a radio performer. She moved into radio news in the early 1930s, when another local station gave her her own program, entitled "News Through a Woman's Eyes." In 1936 she moved to New York City and went to work for CBS. When the network began broadcasting her news program nationwide, she became one of the first women news commentators to broadcast coast-to-coast. In 1937, in an effort to disprove criticism that the airline industry was unsafe, she traveled throughout the country for broadcasts and articles and was subsequently dubbed "the Flying Reporter." After this year of travel she began her own syndicated column of articles, feature stories, and poems. In 1941 she returned to radio broadcasts from New York.

Towards the end of World War II Cravens became the first woman accredited as a wartime radio correspondent when she was assigned to cover Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. She was one of the first broadcasters from Berlin following the Allied victory in 1945. In Potsdam she was arrested by Soviet authorities after entering the postwar conference site before the arrival of Allied political leaders. She was held briefly with a correspondent from the London Sunday Times and suspended from broadcasting for seventy-two hours. Undaunted, Cravens continued her coverage in Europe. She located and broadcast live interviews with numerous displaced persons in Europe who had relatives in the United States. In the postwar period she traveled to twenty-two countries, filing reports for the Cowles Broadcasting Company and the Mutual Broadcasting System. For her services overseas she received a special citation from the United States Army. She later covered elections in the Balkans and early Palestinian riots, as well as presidential news conferences and major social events. During her radio career Cravens interviewed numerous well-known individuals, including United States presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower; Italian dictator Benito Mussolini; entertainers James Cagney and Shirley Temple; author George Bernard Shaw; and Pope Pius XII.

In 1951 Coward-McCann published Cravens's only novel, Pursuit of Gentlemen. The manuscript for the novel won first prize from the National League of American Penwomen in 1948. Shorter works by Cravens were published in Cosmopolitan, the New York Times, and the Christian Science Monitor. Kathryn Cravens was active in the Texas Club of New York City, the National League of American Penwomen, the League of Women Voters, several press clubs, and the Christian Church. Noted for her stylish appearance, she was frequently voted best-dressed woman in radio and one of the ten best-dressed women in the United States. She returned to Texas from New York City in 1962 and lived in retirement in her family home in Burkett, where she died on August 29, 1991. She was survived by several nieces and nephews.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Dallas Times Herald, October 2, 1962. New York Times, August 31, 1991. San Angelo Standard Times, January 18, 1970. Texas Parade, November 1951. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who's Who of American Women, 1970–71.

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, "CRAVENS, KATHRYN COCHRAN," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcrpu), accessed August 29, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.