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Brief Biographical / Historical Sketch

Biography

Dr. Joseph Riggs, a Professor Emeritus of communications at Slippery Rock University, began collecting and microfilming the columns of his close friend Kaspar Monahan in the 1970's in order to preserve “a treasure trove” of film, theatre, and entertainment history. He worked systematically to retrieve and microfilm all of Monahan's writings from 1927 to 1968. He and several others conducted interviews with Monahan, which were then transcribed and compiled into a comprehensive oral history. Riggs organized an exhibit of these materials at Slippery Rock's Bailey Library in April 1983 and then had them displayed in Monahan's hometown of Salida, Colorado, the following year. He also began, but did not complete, an indexing project designed to facilitate searching of the collection.

Kaspar ‘Kap’ Monahan was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1894. His family later moved to Salida, Colorado, where he began his career writing and drawing cartoons for the high school newspaper. Monahan worked for the railroad and local theaters before a local businessman sent him to the University of Colorado to study journalism in 1922. During his time there, he wrote for the Dodo and the Silver and Gold; after graduation he worked as a reporter and drama critic for the Pueblo Chieftain, the Associated Press, the Denver Express, the Denver World, the Rocky Mountain News, and the Denver Post. He became drama editor for the Pittsburgh Press in 1932. During his tenure, Monahan became a nationally known figure through his reviews of theater productions and films, writings about the entertainment industry in general, and interviews with performers, writers, and producers including Clark Gable, Mae West, and Cecil B. DeMille. He retired from the Press in 1968 but continued to write articles until his death in 1980 at age 86.