Skip to main content

Breen, Gertrude, 1911-1992



  • Existence: 1911 - 1992


Gertrude Bader was born on April 16, 1911, in Venice, Illinois. After attending Madison High School she began coursework at Northwestern University in 1929 and officially enrolled in the School of Speech in 1931. Graduating in 1934, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech as well as the Isabel Lovedale Award for outstanding dramatic talent. Although Gertrude began graduate coursework in the School of Speech, she never completed a graduate degree. On June 16, 1935, she married Robert S. Breen, who had played Romeo to her Juliet in a university production of Shakespeare's play. The couple resided in Evanston.

Throughout a long and varied Communications career Gertrude appeared in professional productions of The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night; produced, directed, and arranged music for children's plays; acted in solo, duo (with husband Robert Breen), and children's theatre productions; co-authored television scripts; and adapted novels for chamber theatre presentation. Her chamber theatre dramatization of Lois Lenski's Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison toured Midwestern schools and children's theatres from 1959 to 1963. Coach House published her Indian Captive script in 1961. Gertrude also recorded novels on audiotape for the American Foundation for the Blind and taped dramatic readings for Scott, Foresman, and Company. During the 1960s she worked as secretary, publicist, and business manager for the Children's Theatre of Evanston (see series 55/19).

In addition, Gertrude was active in national Speech and Communications fraternity Zeta Phi Eta (see series 31/70), serving as national vice president from 1967 to 1970 and national president from 1970 to 1978. A member of the Evanston Alumni Council's Communications Committee and representative of the class of 1934, she received the Alumni Service Award in 1988. Her other activities included chairing two committees at the First United Methodist Church; teaching kindergarten at the church's school; and raising two children, Katherine and Kevin.

Upon her husband's death in 1991 Gertrude established the Robert Breen Memorial Trust Fund for Northwestern University. She died on February 16, 1992.

See also Northwestern University Archives Alumni Biographical files, series 51/14, box 360 (Gertrude Catherine Bader) and box 336 (Robert Breen).

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Robert S. Breen (1909-1991) Papers

Identifier: 20/42
Abstract Professor Robert S. Breen joined the faculty of the Northwestern University in 1947. Professor Breen’s distinguished academic career included his originating and refining the concept of Chamber Theatre. Chamber Theatre, now widely known and used, permitted the dramatic presentation of fiction and non-fiction without the artificial elimination of the narrator which more traditional dramatizations required. Readers' Theatre, the ensemble presentation of dramatic literature, were also a...
Dates: 1909-1992