R.I.P. Mary Kay, the calming voice of a chaotic industry

If you remember my original Screen magazine you’ll undoubtedly recall the dulcet voice that answered the phone and faithfully took your messages. “I can still hear her voice in my head saying ‘Screen Magazine’ like a voiceover temptress,” says former Screenite Dan Page.

That lovely voice – “a calming voice in a chaotic industry,” as Tom Test put it – belonged to Mary Kleinman, or Mary Kay as she was known, our rock of a receptionist of many years.

Mary peacefully passed away last Saturday, at St. Paul’s Home, which had been her residence for the past several years.  She was ageless.

“Mary was one of a kind, just the best,” said Maureen Canny Maley, a longtime Screenite. “She always had such an optimistic take on everything.  Mary was the heartbeat of our office.”

Behind her gentle and agreeable persona was a sparkling creative mind that, had life been different at the time, she would have had a spectacular career.   

Staff birthdays were always celebrated with a party at Screen.  Mary took great delight in coming up with the party’s theme and planning them, and she always provided the celebrant with a thoughtful card or gift. 

For one of my birthdays, Mary’s gift was four different photos of my face superimposed on a womanin a famous painting.  It was pretty amazing to see me as a grinning Marie Antionette or a serene Mona Lisa.

“Mary made a crazy place, crazy environment a wonderful home,” recalls former Screenite Pamela Maren.  “She had a calming, welcoming, warm way to greet the day. She made beautiful little poems as gifts and always made you feel special. Her beauty resonated in her amazing voice.”

Before joining Screen, Mary Kay had spent many years as the receptionist for now-defunct Edit/Chicago, owned by the late editor Tony Izzo.  “She was one of a kind,” says Anthony Izzo of Ki Editorial. “Mary managed to keep a pretty lively brood under control.”

For years Mary controlled our busy front desk at Edit/Chicago with her calming graceful tones,” recalls editor Vince Izzo. “We all loved her, our clients loved her and she always had our backs. They’ve thrown away the mold and we’ll all miss her.”

Memorial service to be held this Friday

Mary Kleinman was born in Chicago, a graduate of Roosevelt High School, one of three very close sisters.  Like many young people of her era, she went to work after high school as a secretary.  But she was always drawn to creative companies, such as advertising agencies and ultimately the film business. 

She is survived by a niece, three grandnephews and a grandniece and their children and a vast array of people she had touched with her gentle spirit and infallible thoughtfulness.

A memorial service will be held Friday, Oct. 28. For more information, please Email ruth@reelchicago.com or phone me at 312-274-9980.

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