Lisa Kernan, 1952-2006

Lisa Devereux Kernan, librarian for film, television, and theater in the UCLA Arts Library, died of pancreatic cancer on June 25, 2006, at her home in Los Angeles. She was 53.

Kernan was born in Watertown, New York, on October 26, 1952, to Michael Kernan, a feature writer for the Washington Post for twenty-three years and a novelist, and Margot Starr Kernan, a video artist and retired professor of film studies. She earned a BA in humanities from New College in Sarasota, Florida, in 1974 and an MS in library service with honors from Columbia University in New York. She also earned an MA in film studies from San Francisco State University in 1991 and a PhD in film and television critical studies from UCLA in 2000. Her dissertation was published in 2004 by the University of Texas Press as Coming Attractions: Reading American Movie Trailers. Kernan worked for the photography department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York while studying at Columbia. She moved to San Francisco in 1983, where she worked as the film librarian for Lucasfilm, Ltd., during 1983-85 and as a teaching assistant during 1990-91, while studying for her MA.

Kernan moved to Los Angeles in 1991 to take up a fellowship at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and she remained as a teaching fellow at UCLA through 1996. During 1996-98 she was the chief librarian and archivist for Warner Bros. Feature Animation Studio. She returned to UCLA in 1998 as librarian for film, television, and theater in the UCLA Arts Library, the position she held at the time of her death.

Kernan is survived by her mother, Margot Starr Kernan of Bennington, Vermont; a brother, Nathan Kernan of New York; and another brother, Nicholas Kernan, sister-in-law, Mayumi, niece, Elizabeth, and nephew, James, all of Cheverly, Maryland.

Contributions in Lisa's memory can be made to the UCLA Arts Library. Please send your check (payable to the UCLA Foundation) to the UCLA Library, 21520 Charles E. Young Research Library, Box 951575, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575. Contributions can also be made to The Center for Policy Analysis in San Francisco or Ordinary Dharma, Manzanita Village, Warner Springs, CA.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This bio is interesting, but it doesn't begin to capture Lisa's passion for film and photography, the creative interplay she could create between theory and art, her professionalism and sense of community. Her good works and vibrancy remain alive, shaping those lucky enough to encounter them through our memories or her writings.
Katie Mills

2:47 PM  
Blogger Berta said...

Thank you for all of the effort you made putting this together. It is really wonderful. It's nice to see her face.
Berta Hodges (her cousin)

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Charlotte said...

I'm so grateful for Lisa's page. I knew her for most of her life, and this tribute is wonderful.

I do have a little correction for a caption under one of the photos Penelope sent: the martial arts photo was taken in NYC in 1976 or 77 of Lisa practicing Tae Kwon Do, not Aikido. She was a wonderful and fierce martial artist in her prime, and introduced me to martial arts. She earned a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do from Master Chang on the Upper East Side. Some of my many fond memories are from that period in her life. It's a great photo, isn't it, and shows her sweetness and determination and fierceness all at once.
Lisa did study Aikido later in her life, but had to stop because of an old hip injury, much to her frustration. Aikido is more firmly rooted on the ground, and you'd never see a high kick like the one Lisa's doing. I never saw her do Aikido, but I'll bet she was impressive. You all know how she threw herself into anything she loved.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Luisela said...

That day, the glowing sun was delightfully crowning this usually foggy city. The Society of Cinema Studies Conference would give as a break just to wonder around. We were riding a bus to Portobello Market and her memory was flowing with stories from the year she spent as a child with her family in London. She wanted to visit those places of her past. Both our spirits were up to discovering small treasures in typical English antique shops and meeting new people on the way. And so we did. One peek here, one peek there. “Isn’t this great?” She loved looking at old etchings and all kinds of art just piled up in boxes on the curve. And we would also stop and stare at those glittering old pins. She had a thing or two for shiny stones. So she said. “Lisa, how do you like this rustic compas?” We stopped for a tea, and her usual friendly self opened ways for us to share stories with passers by. Soft, chatty, with that sweet smile of hers, she would start any lively conversation while easily weaving her wide experience and knowledge.

I visited her in Los Angeles when she was bedridden. Lisa wanted me to give myself the tour of the house. She was proud of it. She was proud of her book. And of the unique ring she acquired with its royalties. It was a reminder of her own achievements. Didn’t a writer once say that writing a book, building a house and planting a tree are tokens of having lived a full life? I am sure Lisa planted countless trees, for such was her love for nature.

I saw her that day for the last time. I believe she was calm. She had come to terms with her situation, and realized she had lived a good life. Moreover, she asked me about common friends. As always, she expressed care for others and, at the same time, I truly believe, she was in peace with herself.

All my love to her,


2:43 PM  
Blogger margot starr kernan said...

Thank you Robert for this beautiful and touching memorial. Lisa spoke of you so often, and I am so glad you were her friend. I still see Lisa, her elegance, her sparkling eyes, sometimes standing on tiptoes with eagerness to express an idea. I miss her so -- her brilliant mind, those long phone conversations about film and politics, her friends who were so wonderful throughout her illness, her valiant courage. Lisa, my daughter. Mother

7:30 PM  
Blogger Kernan as Himself said...

Feb 2011
My maternal grandmother was Mary Kernan, of Utica, New York. I never met her, as she died in the early 20th century, before I was born. However, I see myself in the picture of Lisa's father, Michael, and I see my mother and my daughter in Lisa's face.
Too bad, that I came upon my distant cousins so late in my life.
I would have loved them.
Kernan W. Davis, Scotia NY,

2:06 PM  

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