OFFBEAT: Chicago gossip columnist Kup never forgot beloved daughter

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-11-29T00:00:00Z 2013-11-29T15:29:28Z OFFBEAT: Chicago gossip columnist Kup never forgot beloved daughterBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

On Jan. 18, 1943, Chicago gossip columnist Irv "Kup" Kupcinet published his first newspaper column.

And 60 years later, when his column celebrated it's 60th anniversary in the Chicago Sun-Times, the favorite feature of famed bold-faced names, continued right where it started, inconveniently sandwiched in the middle of the tabloid newspaper.

"They always left my column in the middle of the newspaper, instead of moving it to the front, because they wanted to give readers a reason to have to come to the middle of the newspaper," Kup once told me in his later years while I was at his Lake Shore Drive apartment for a visit.

It was a decade ago, in November 2003, when Kup died at age 91. His beloved wife of 60 years, Essie, had died at age 85, in June 2001.

Thanksgiving was always a difficult time for "Mr. Chicago" and his arts patron wife. On Thanksgiving Day 1963, just days after our country was recovering from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Kupcinets' beautiful 22-year-old daughter Karyn was discovered dead, from apparent strangulation, in her tiny Hollywood apartment. Her naked body was discovered by her good friends, actor Mark Goddard, who starred in the TV series "Lost in Space," and his wife Marcia.

Labeled a murder by Los Angeles police, today, now 50 years later, the crime has not been solved.

When I would visit Kup at his apartment in his later years, sometimes even bringing my parents Chester and Peggy for our chats, he would often be resting in the bedroom, where a large portrait of Karyn (or "Cookie" as he called her) hung above his bed.

An actor boyfriend Andrew Prine was pinned as the top suspect in Karyn's murder and Kup used all of his connections to press for a conviction that never happened, and at the same time, ruining his would-be career.

More than 1,500 people attended services at Temple Sholom on North Lake Shore Drive, including notables of the day like Gov. Otto Kerner and Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Kup said after his daughter's murder made headlines around the country, he received condolences from all of his newspaper columnist rivals and counterparts, including Dorothy Kilgallen, Leonard Lyons, Earl Wilson, Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, as well as inspirational words of comfort from Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame University. Walter Winchell, who happened to be on assignment in Los Angeles at the time of the murder, needled the LAPD for answers and gave considerable ink to the investigation, telling Kup: "I promise you I'll find out who did it and this will win a Pulitzer Prize for me!"

Kup even cashed in his favors for help, from old friend J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI.

Karyn, whose career began on stage in Chicagoland in roles at Drury Lane Theatre, including playing the daughter of Pat O'Brien's character in "Father of the Bride," also appeared in a few TV series, such as "The Donna Reed Show" and "Perry Mason," featured in small parts. Her brother Jerry Kupcinet is a TV producer for the "Judge Judy" show.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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