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Aldrich, Richard (17 August 1902–31 March 1986), theatrical producer, manager, and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Irving Aldrich, a rubber company executive, and Mary Pickering Joy. Both parents were members of wealthy, prominent New England families. Aldrich in childhood formed a lifelong love of the theater, which he fostered in school productions and summer student performances. He did further stage work while he attended Harvard College, both with a touring student group called the Jitney Players during summers and with the Harvard Dramatic Club, which he served as president. Though tall and well-featured, Aldrich consistently preferred to work behind the scenes as producer and business manager rather than to perform on stage. He completed his education at Harvard in 1925....

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Broadhurst, George Howells (03 June 1866–31 January 1952), playwright and producer, was born in Walsall, England. His parents hoped that he would enter the clergy, especially after the local bishop presented him with an award for his theological knowledge. To avoid a clerical life, he ran away to America, probably in 1886. He settled in Chicago and obtained work as a clerk at the Board of Trade. Subsequently he moved to Milwaukee, where he had been offered the job of managing a theater. Similar assignments followed in Baltimore and in San Francisco. He then spent a while as a journalist, serving briefly as editor of a newspaper in Grand Forks, North Dakota....

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Burnside, R. H. (13 August 1870–14 September 1952), director, producer, and playwright, was born Robert Hubber Thorne Burnside in Glasgow, Scotland. His father, unnamed in biographical sources, was the manager of Glasgow’s Gaiety Theatre; his mother was Margaret or Marguerite (maiden name unknown), an actress. Burnside’s first name is sometimes given in biographical sources as “Richard,” a mistake that arose because he invariably went by his initials “R. H.” (or his nicknames “Burny” and “Zipp”) and made a point of keeping his given names secret. As a child, Burnside traveled on theatrical tours with his mother. His formal education was sketchy and ended early after he performed, costumed as a dog, in the musical burlesque ...

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Campbell, Bartley, Jr. (12 August 1843–30 July 1888), playwright and producer, was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, the son of Bartley Campbell, the owner of a brickyard, and Mary Eckles. The family had emigrated from Ireland in 1840. Campbell received little formal education, spending much of his childhood working with his two older brothers in their father’s brickyard....

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Cook, George Cram (07 October 1873–14 January 1924), writer and leading spirit of the Provincetown Players theatrical group, was born in Davenport, Iowa, the son of Edward Everett Cook, a railroad attorney from a prominent local family, and Ellen Katherine Dodge. Fellow students at a private school gave him his lifelong nickname of “Jig.” Cook grew up artistic and idealistic in his views. He desired deeply to recapture in modern life the community, simplicity, and depth he found in ancient Greek civilization and drama. In appearance he was a romantic figure: ...

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Jane Cowl Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1914. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-0155-B-007).

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Cowl, Jane (14 December 1884–22 June 1950), actor, producer, and writer, was born Grace Bailey in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Charles A. Bailey, a provision dealer and clerk, and Grace Avery, a singer and voice teacher. Around 1887 the family moved to Brooklyn, where Jane published verses in ...

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Crothers, Rachel (12 December 1870–05 July 1958), playwright and director, was born in Bloomington, Illinois, the daughter of Eli Kirk Crothers and Marie Louise De Pew, both physicians. Crothers’s birth date is sometimes given as 1878, but the 1870 date is confirmed by both her death certificate and the U.S. Census. She was the youngest in a prosperous family of English and Scottish descent. When Crothers was six, her mother began taking medical courses, eventually becoming the first female doctor in the Bloomington area. Crothers’s plays would later be populated by many women endeavoring, like her mother, to reconcile professional and maternal roles....

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DeSylva, B. G. (27 January 1895–11 July 1950), lyricist and film and theatrical producer, was born George Gard DeSylva in New York City, the son of Aloysius Joseph DeSylva, a vaudeville performer turned attorney, and Georgetta Gard, daughter of a U.S. marshal. When he was two, his family moved to Los Angeles, where his father—who had played in vaudeville as Hal de Forest—tried to make a child star of DeSylva. His debut came at age four in a song-and-dance routine at the Grand Opera House, and for a time he toured on the Keith vaudeville circuit. But DeSylva’s youthful show business career was terminated by his maternal grandfather, who insisted the boy receive a stable and normal education (Georgetta’s father had earlier prompted the elder DeSylva to quit show business and seek a “respectable” profession as a condition for marrying his daughter)....

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Dunning, Philip Hart (11 December 1891?–20 July 1968), playwright, producer, and stage director, was born Philip Hart Dunn in Meriden, Connecticut, the son of John Michael Dunn, an electrochemist, and Mary Hart. Dunning’s parents sent him to the public schools of Meriden. By the time he was sixteen he had spent a summer as a magician’s assistant in a medicine show that traveled through rural New York and New England, and formal schooling was no match for the lad’s dreams about the next time he might get on “the road.” His parents recognized young Dunning’s passion for the stage and, reluctantly, took him to New York City while still in his teens to seek his fortune in show business....

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Fiske, Harrison Grey (30 July 1861–02 September 1942), theatrical editor and manager-producer, was born in Harrison, New York, the son of Lyman Fiske, a hotel owner, and Jennie Durfee. Fiske’s well-to-do family moved to New York City when he was a child, and there he developed a lifelong passion for the theater. He was educated by tutors and at private schools and traveled in Europe. Thanks to family influence with the owners of the papers, while still an adolescent Fiske began reviewing plays for two newspapers, the ...

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Golden, John (27 June 1874–17 June 1955), theatrical producer, songwriter, and playwright, was born in New York City, the son of Joel Golden, a teacher and proprietor of a summer hotel, and Amelia Tyreler. Raised in Wauseon, Ohio, he went to New York at age fourteen to pursue a career as an actor. For seven years he struggled, accepting odd jobs and selling comic verses, the latter written after the manner of W. S. Gilbert, to the weekly humor magazines ...

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Hammerstein, Oscar, II (12 July 1895–23 August 1960), Broadway librettist, lyricist, and producer, was born Oscar Greeley Clendenning Hammerstein II in New York City, the son of William Hammerstein, the manager of the Victoria Theater, and Alice Nimmo. In addition to his career as a builder of New York theaters (including the Victoria), Oscar’s grandfather ...

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Hayward, Leland (13 September 1902–18 March 1971), theatrical and literary agent and producer, was born in Nebraska City, Nebraska, the son of William Leland, a district attorney, and Sarah Irland Tappan. Hayward attended private schools in New England and was admitted to Princeton University, but he was asked to leave in his freshman year because of poor grades. In 1921 he married Inez “Lola” Gibbs. They divorced the next year but remarried in 1930; they divorced again in 1934....

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Helburn, Theresa (12 January 1887–18 August 1959), playwright and theater producer, was born in New York City, the daughter of Julius Helburn, a Boston leather merchant, and Hannah Peyser, a primary school teacher. Helburn acquired a love of literature and culture from her mother, who educated her in the experimental elementary school she had established at home. When her mother took her at age nine to see ...

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Henderson, David (26 April 1853–27 May 1908), journalist and theatrical manager and producer, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of William Henderson and Elizabeth Bissett. Educated in Edinburgh, Henderson became apprenticed in the printing business at the age of twelve after his parents died. He began his journalistic career working for the ...

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Hirschbein, Peretz (07 November 1880–16 August 1948), playwright, producer, and director, was born in a mill near Klestchel, Grodno Province, Belarus, the son of Lippe der Milner, a miller, and Sheyne Hollander. He studied in a traditional religious school in Klestchel and in yeshivas in Brest-Litovsk and Vilna. By age twenty he had decided to abandon a rabbinical career and remained in Vilna, supporting himself by tutoring....

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Janney, Russell Dixon (14 April 1885–14 July 1963), writer, press agent, and theatrical producer, was born in Wilmington, Ohio, the son of Reynold Janney, a mechanic and builder of bicycles, and Ella Dixon. Soon after his birth his family moved to Chillicothe, Ohio, where his father served as principal of the high school. In 1894 Janney’s father gave up his career in education and moved his family again, this time to Keene, New Hampshire, where he set up in business as a mechanic. Keene was at this time often a stopover town for theater companies traveling between Boston and Montreal, and Janney developed an interest in working in the theater. He enrolled at Yale University, where he wrote and produced several plays for his fraternity, Beta Theta Pi. After he graduated in 1906 he settled briefly in New York, but the following year he departed for London to pursue a career as a press agent and freelance writer. He achieved modest success abroad, counting among his employers several leading figures in the British theater, including Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree and George Edwardes, for whom he created publicity....

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Kennedy, Charles Rann (14 February 1871–16 February 1950), playwright, actor, and producer, was born in Derby, England, the son of Edmund Hall Kennedy and Annie Leng Fawcett. He was the grandson and namesake of a famous Greek scholar and English barrister who was best known for his translations of Demosthenes’ orations. Educated at College School in Saltley of Birmingham, Kennedy initially intended to enter the Anglican priesthood but at the age of thirteen changed his mind and entered business as a clerk. At sixteen he began to write short stories, poetry, articles, and drama, became a lecturer, and cultivated a talent and desire for acting....

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Logan, Joshua (05 October 1908–12 July 1988), director, producer, playwright, lyricist, and actor, was born Joshua Lockwood Logan in Texarkana, Texas. His lumberman father, Joshua Lockwood Logan, Sr., died when Logan was only three years old. He was raised in Louisiana by his mother, Susan Nabors, and stepfather, Howard F. Noble, an officer on the staff of the Culver Military Academy, where Logan attended school. Logan began his theatrical career in 1928 as a student at Princeton University, where he was a founder of the University Players, a summer stock group that performed on Cape Cod and that also included ...