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After Pauline

By GERALD PEARY  |  February 9, 2006

Here’s the story. The News’ founder, Captain Joseph Patterson, hired Paul Gallico as his first critic in the late ’20s. Gallico wrote negative reviews, so Patterson, a movie lover, banished him to sports. “I think women film critics are more intuitive and understand movies better, “ he declared, and he went on to hire a string of them. The first was Irene Thiver, the second his wife’s sister, Loretta King. These critics shared a nom de plume: Kate Cameron. Camera on! Loretta King/Kate Cameron — ”an elegant little woman, very sweet” — was an encouraging presence when Carroll arrived at the News. She retired in 1967, after 32 years of reviewing. “She was a spinster,” Carroll said, “who lived with her sister, Mary King, the News’ women’s editor. This was after Captain Patterson, Mary’s husband, had passed away.”

In the ’60s, the Daily News had, with Carroll, three women critics. There was Wanda Hale, whom Carroll remembered as “Glamorous! These were the days when women wore hats to work, and gloves!” But Hale, as “Cameron,” was soft on movies. The first tough distaff critic, pre–Pauline Kael, was the Herald Tribune’s Judith Crist. “Judy was very demanding, a good writer,” Carroll said. And she mentioned the forgotten Rose Pelswick of Hearst’s Journal-American. “She’d come out of a screening saying, ‘This is awful, this is terrible,’ and you’d see the reviews were so benign. I think she got out all her venom in the elevator.”
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