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Radio, Television Writer Jean Holloway Tobin Dies

November 16, 1989|BURT A. FOLKART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jean Holloway Tobin, whose writing career cut across three of the four major entertainment fields, has died, her longtime aide said Wednesday.

Rebecca Gourlie said Mrs. Tobin, widow of character actor Dan Tobin, was 72 and died Saturday in Santa Monica after a stroke.

As Jean Holloway she was a youthful and later frequent contributor to radio, beginning with "The Kate Smith Show" in the late 1930s.

She got to network radio from then-San Jose State College after winning a poetry contest. She eventually was introduced to Ted Collins, producer of the Smith show.

While still in her 20s Miss Holloway began to write some of radio's most prestigious shows: "The Hallmark Radio Hall of Fame," where she condensed major contemporary novels into less than 30 minutes of air time; "Mr. President," where Edward Arnold each week portrayed a different American chief executive; "The Railroad Hour," a program that bisected both drama and music, and "Mayor of the Town," the hugely popular Lionel Barrymore melodrama.

From 1946 to 1948 she wrote three of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's best-known film musicals, "Till the Clouds Roll By," "Words and Music" and "Summer Holiday," an adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's "Ah Wilderness!"

Asked by director Rouben Mamoulian if she thought she could write as well as O'Neill, Miss Holloway replied that if she could she certainly wouldn't be working for MGM.

She told The Times in 1966 that the MGM experience was "three miserable years," primarily because the studio bosses wouldn't let her write drama. She finally left the lot and moved to TV.

It was while writing TV's first daytime, live continuous soap opera, "The First 100 Years," that she met her husband, who later portrayed Terrence Clay on "Perry Mason." He died in 1982.

Mrs. Tobin spent most of the rest of her life as a TV writer, creating the pilot for "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," writing nearly 40 episodes of "Wagon Train," two years of "Dr. Kildare" scripts and various shows in the 1970s, including "Marcus Welby, M.D.," and "How the West Was Won."

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