Scarberry, Alma Sioux

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Born 24 June 1899, Carter County, Kentucky; died 10 April 1990

Also wrote under: Beatrice Fairfax, Annie Laurie

Daughter of George W. and Caledonia Lee Patrick Scarberry; married Theodore A. Klein, 1930

Alma Sioux Scarberry is the daughter of a Kentucky fundamentalist minister. Her early home life was difficult; her father, a stern disciplinarian, remarried several times, and Scarberry often had to support herself as a child. She began to write prose and poetry at an early age, and writing always seemed natural to her.

After working her way through a semester at New Bethlehem Business College in Pennsylvania, Scarberry moved in 1917 to New York City, selling varnish to pay her way. Scarberry first found a sales job in a Brooklyn department store, but soon enlisted in the Navy, serving a year as one of the first Yeomanettes. Scarberry took a position with King Features in 1920, first writing daily love columns under the names Beatrice Fairfax and Annie Laurie, but soon writing under her own byline for the New York American, Graphic, and Mirror. She won fame for her feature articles and daring publicity stunts. Scarberry also appeared on Broadway in Irving Berlin's Music Box Revue (1922-23) and in the Shubert revival of The Mikado (1924).

In 1926 Scarberry moved to Pittsburgh to write a daily column and features for the Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph. On her editor's dare, she wrote her first novel. The tremendous popularity of Make Up (1931) won her a contract as columnist and serial writer with Central Press in 1928. After her marriage, Scarberry moved to Chicago, where her first radio drama, The Girl Reporter, was purchased and produced by NBC. In 1930 she began to write for the Bell Syndicate and North American Newspaper Alliance. The next 14 years would see all 21 of her romances published serially; only 12 were republished in book form. Scarberry's son was also born in 1930.

In 1940 Scarberry took a publicity job with CBS in Hollywood, soon moving to head the writing department of the Mutual Don Lee Network to write radio dramas and general continuity. From 1944 to 1946, Scarberry directed the Radio Bureau of the National War Fund in New York. The years after 1946 were productive; she wrote features, columns, and songs for films. The Doofer Family, a serial fantasy for children which was inspired by songs and jokes she enjoyed with her young son and is Scarberry's own favorite, appeared through General Features (1955-56).

During the Korean War, Scarberry was a soldier-show technician for the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Scarberry worked as public relations director for Columbus Plastics in Columbus, Ohio, from 1959 until 1965, when she moved to Austin, Texas. Since 1965 she handled public relations for good causes and contributed columns to magazines and newspapers. Scarberry was featured in a local radio talk show and was still writing and starring in television commercials into the early 1980s.

Scarberry's romances are readable, with interesting characters, rapidly developed action, and lively dialogue. The serials reflect the author's experiences and views. Like Janet James of Make Up and Rosalie March of Dimpled Racketeer (1931), Scarberry's heroines are often attractive and talented country girls who come to the city naive but eager to get ahead. But like singer Elanda Lee of High Hat (1930), determined to get a break in radio, or dancer Jan Keats of Rainbow Over Broadway (1936), determined to become a Broadway star, Scarberry's heroines are characterized by independence, hard work, and a refusal to compromise values and expectations. After finding independence and success, they can make room in their lives for love, happiness, and a home with a reliable, honest, and sensitive man. All offer readers the vicarious experience of the best of both a brilliant career and a loving family. Each novel climaxes with the happy marriage of hero and heroine, a marriage that resolves all subplots.

For Scarberry, writing always meant the use of a particular kind of talent for profit. Inspiration usually begins with characters; when these are fully developed, a plot forms around them. From the plot outline, the writing comes quickly. As Scarberry puts it: "Writing takes three things. It requires an active creative imagination which leads to a pattern, a formula. And it requires a market. Without a market, a writer really has no purpose." The great popularity of Scarberry's serial fiction indicates her success and understanding in creating for the market of her choice.

Other Works:

The Flat Tire (1930). Flighty: A Romance of Gypsy O'Malley—A Girl Who Lived Down Her Family (1932). Puppy Love: A Hollywood Romance (1933). Penthouse Love (1934). Too Wise to Marry (1935). Too Many Beaus (1936). Thou Shalt Not Love (1937). The Lady Proposes (1941).


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