Kathryn Trosper Popper, who was believed to be the last surviving actor to appear on screen in Citizen Kane, died from pneumonia Sunday in Manhattan, according to the The New York Times. She was 100.
Popper was 25 years old and working as a personal assistant to Orson Welles when the director, co-writer, and star enlisted her to pull double duty on his 1941 film about a domineering newspaper magnate; she played the roving photographer who wonders, “What’s Rosebud?”
Recalling her multi-tasking in an interview last year, Popper said, “I would just drop my notebook and run on the set.”
Long after Kane became a classic, Popper staunchly defended Welles’ contributions to the script, which Pauline Kael had questioned in the lengthy essay Raising Kane.
“Then I’d like to know,” Popper once said, “what was all that stuff I was always typing for Mr. Welles?”
Popper was born Kathryn Naomi Trosper in Hudson, Wyoming, and attended USC and UCLA. She dropped out to support her parents during the Depression and eventually found work with Welles.
In 1943 she married Martin Popper, a lawyer who defended screenwriters Dalton Trumbo and John Howard Lawson. Her brother, Guy Trosper, also wrote screenplays, including Birdman of Alcatraz and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.
Popper is survived by two children, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.