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Onriette King

02/16/2007

A gifted writer and television pioneer, Onriette (Lebron) King of Warren died with her loving husband at her side at the Rowan Court Rehabilitation Center in Barre on Saturday morning, February 10, 2007. She was 83 years old.

A self-effacing saint with a beatific smile she kept to the end. King valiantly battled the ravages of pancreatic cancer for more than a year.

King was born in Los Angeles on August 29, 1923, when it was an agricultural Mecca with bean fields and orange groves, to Victor and Bernardine (Rivard) Lebron.

King was educated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelay in Los Angeles at convent schools in Los Angeles for 16 years. She graduated a music major, having studied as a concert pianist. She received her B.A. degree from Mount St. Mary's College in Bel Aire, California.

A charismatic woman, King was a television pioneer and cultural advocate starting her career with CBS Radio mimeographing scripts at Columbia Square on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. The building had been engineered by her father, Victor Lebron, before he moved on to build Boulder (Hoover) Dam on the Colorado River in Arizona. He was a civil engineer.

King moved to television in the 1950s, becoming a publicist/press agent for the new industry, contributing significantly to CBS's reputation as "the Tiffany of the networks" in that decade. She wrote program storylines, biographies and feature articles for the national press advancing the popularity of luminaries like Alfred Hitchcock, William Shatner, David Jansen and Ida Lupino.
With the Pat McDermott Company in 1957, a public relations agency started by the former Los Angeles Times reporter, she advanced the interests of Chevrolet-sponsored "My Three Sons," "The Real McCoys" and "Route 66" in both Los Angeles and New York City.

Working in Washington, DC, from 1968 to 1986, King was administrative assistant to the headmaster of the Academy of the Washington Ballet where Vermonter Kevin McKenzie graduated. McKenzie is now artistic director of the American Ballet Theater.

She was the first person hired by headmaster Jean Harris at Katherine Graham's Madeira School in Greenway, Virginia.

Moving to the Mad River Valley in 1988, King was the first secretary to the board of directors during the first five formative years of the Green Mountain Cultural Center at the Joslyn Round Barn.

As a member of the Valley Players community theater, she acted, judged script submissions for the Northern New England Playwright's Award and served as dialogue coach for director Leo Cohen for such musical productions as Chicago and <MI>Carousel.<D>

King is survived by her husband of 50 years, Philip Gordon King, who was her editor at CBS. They married on February 23, 1957. They have three children, Gordon R.J. of Salt Lake City, Philip David and daughter-in-law Cindy van Dijk of New Harbor, Washington, and Dr. Bernardine King of Novato, California. Both sons were ordained as Presbyterian ministers. Philip D. is a Navy chaplain. The Kings have four grandchildren, Christopher, Murilla, Aubrey and John.

A memorial service will be conducted by Fr. Jerome A. Mercure at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Waitsfield at 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 17, 2007. Donations in her name may be made to (Information forthcoming).

 

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