It started with a two-pound can of goop on Kate Phillips' coffee table. The bearers of the goop were a pair of would-be
producers with an idea for a low-budget movie. They needed a script in a hurry, and she was a screenwriter who could deliver:
she was accustomed to the meatgrinder pace of television writing.
"They took the top
off the can, laid it on its side, and out came this thing," Phillips recalls. "It climbed up over a stack of magazines,
it separated and went around a big ashtray, came back together, and then it went on. I was absolutely fascinated!"
Two weeks later, she delivered the script for one of the greatest B movies of all time: The Blob,
starring Steve McQueen in his first film role. And starring the goop in the can as the unstoppable title character, an oozing
slime from outer space that grew as it consumed human flesh.
Phillips and McQueen
were each paid a nominal sum and, by one account, promised a cut of the gross. "Steve and I used to pass one another
down at Schwab's Drugstore. And we would look at one another and say, 'Did you [get paid]?' 'No.' We never got a thing.
Forty-nine years later, in the spring of 2007, it still rankled: "I've
decided I'm going to go to the Writers' Guild, and I'm going to say, 'I'm a charter member of this outfit. I think I should
be getting some residuals!'"
Kate Phillips was 93 years old. She walked slowly, and
needed a cane for support. But she was still prepared to raise a fuss in Hollywood if need be.