Actress played a roving reporter in landmark film
Kathryn Trosper Popper, the personal assistant to Orson Welles who appeared in his landmark film “Citizen Kane,” died Sunday just 11 days short of her 101st birthday, her daughter Laura Popper said on Facebook.
According to the younger Popper, the actress developed pneumonia last week and “in her Lazarus like way, rallied and improved.” However, by Friday, “a switch flipped and within minutes she was struggling to breathe, aglow with fever.”
Popper played a roving photographer in “Citizen Kane,” uttering the famous lines “What’s Rosebud?” and “All in crates.” She was the last surviving cast member of the 1941 drama, which was nominated for nine Oscars and won one, for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Welles.
Born in Hudson, Wyoming, Trosper Popper was “the daughter of a housewife and a coal miner,” according to Laura. She received a scholarship to USC, but dropped out after two years when that ended.
Later, she worked as a court stenographer and in the secretarial pool of a Hollywood studio. According to her daughter, she also once dated blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, who was recently portrayed by Bryan Cranston in “Trumbo.”
Kathryn went on to marry attorney Marty Popper, who defended Trumbo and members of the “Hollywood Ten,” as well as other political clients, a profession that Laura Popper said was not without its complications.
“Together, they weathered brutal political times. Our phones were tapped and we were followed by the FBI,” she recalled. “Friends would drop by for festive parties on their way to jail. My mother was the glue that kept us all together.”
Trosper Popper is survived by son Joe, daughter Laura, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.