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Amberg, George (28 December 1901–27 July 1971), professor of film and dance critic, was born Hans Aschaffenburg in Halle, Germany, the son of Gustav Aschaffenburg, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist, and Maja Nebel. He was educated in Davos, Switzerland, from 1916 to 1918, at a fashionable boys’ private high school where the kaiser sent his children, and also in Cologne, Munich, and Kiel. In 1923 he founded Cassette, the avant-garde theater in Cologne, and was also a stage director there. From 1924 to 1928 he worked in theatrical festivals with noted German director Gustav Hurtung, first as a dramaturge and play director at the Cologne Theatre, then in 1926 at the Heidelberg Theatre Festival, and thereafter in 1927–1928 as director in the Darmstadt Theatre. Amberg earned his doctorate in December 1930 from the University of Cologne on the German novelist Theodor Fontane as critic. He was also a lecturer and member of the drama department at the university. From 1930 to 1933 Amberg helped to organize the University of Cologne’s theater museum and also established and directed its film library and institute. His published writings from this period concerned the subject of dance. He was a contributing editor on dance to the Ullstein and Herder encyclopedias. Amberg also gave visiting lectures in Berlin, Frankfurt, Zurich, and Basel. He established a cabaret as well, which was usually considered a low-class entertainment venue, but his was experimental theater that included all of the arts....

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Blake, Harrison Gray Otis (10 April 1816–18 April 1898), teacher and editor, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Francis Blake, a successful lawyer, and Elizabeth Augusta Chandler. His father’s death before Blake’s first birthday sharply reduced the family’s living standard. Blake graduated from Harvard College in 1835, ranking fourth and giving the Latin Salutatory Oration. Three years’ study in Harvard’s Divinity School ensued, during which he encountered the religious and ethical philosophy of the Transcendentalists. In 1838 a committee of Blake and two senior theology classmates invited ...

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Boyd, Julian Parks (03 November 1903–28 May 1980), documentary editor and historian, was born in Converse, South Carolina, the son of Robert J. Boyd, a railroad telegrapher, and Melona Parks. After graduating with a bachelor of arts degree from Duke University in 1925, he earned a master’s degree in political science from that institution in 1926 and then spent 1926–1927 as instructor and principal at Alliance High School in North Carolina; in 1927–1928 he did further graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania. In December 1927 he married Grace Wiggins Welch; the couple had one son....

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Brown, John Mason, Jr. (03 July 1900–16 March 1969), critic, author, and lecturer, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of John Mason Brown, a lawyer, and Caroline Carroll Ferguson; they divorced when Brown was two. John and his older sister were brought up by their mother and maternal grandmother. Brown became stagestruck at the age of eight, when he saw the aging ...

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Burnett, Alfred (02 November 1824–04 April 1884), entertainer and journalist, was born in Bungay, Suffolk, England. The names of his parents and other facts about his early life are unknown. In 1828 he was sent to live with an aunt in New York City. After four years of schooling in Utica, New York, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1836. He later became proprietor of a confectionery business and by 1860 owned three such establishments....

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Eaton, Walter Prichard (24 August 1878–26 February 1957), critic, theater educator, and author, was born in Malden, Massachusetts, the son of Warren Everett Eaton, a schoolmaster, and Mary Prichard. His lifelong involvement in theater arts was kindled in his formative years by viewing performances of actors such as ...

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Fitzpatrick, John Clement (10 August 1876–10 February 1940), archivist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of James Nicholas Fitzpatrick, a financial clerk of the U.S. Senate, and Elizabeth Ann Combs. He graduated from Washington High School in 1894 and for three years worked as a journalist for the ...

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Ford, Worthington Chauncey (16 February 1858–07 March 1941), historical editor and bibliographer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Gordon Lester Ford, a businessman, civic and cultural leader, and bibliophile, and Emily Ellsworth Fowler, an author and a granddaughter of Noah Webster...

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Freedley, George (05 September 1904–11 September 1967), curator of the New York Public Library theater collection, drama critic, and author, was born George Reynolds Freedley in Richmond, Virginia, the son of George Washington Jacoby Freedley, a manufacturing executive, and Maude Reynolds. He grew up in Richmond, where his grandfather and father were prominent in the city’s commercial life; he attended Richmond Academy and John Marshall High School, from which he graduated in 1920. He received a B.A. from the University of Richmond in 1925 and studied with ...

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Gassner, John Waldhorn (30 January 1903–02 April 1967), critic, educator, and author, was born in Szeged, Hungary, the son of Abraham Gassner, a furrier, and Fanny Weinburger. Until age eight he was educated at home while the family moved to Budapest, Vienna, and Rotterdam, emigrating to the United States in 1911....

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Hamilton, Clayton (14 November 1881–17 September 1946), educator and drama critic, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of George Alexander Hamilton, a merchant, and Susan Amelia Corey. Christened Clayton Meeker Hamilton, he deleted his middle name before he reached age twenty-one. His interest in a life of letters began during his youth. He received a B.A. from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1900 and an M.A. from Columbia University in 1901. Hamilton married Gladys Coates in 1913; they had two children....

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Hazard, Samuel (26 May 1784–22 May 1870), historical editor and antiquarian, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Ebenezer Hazard, then postmaster general of the United States, and Abigail Arthur. He received his early education at the Second Presbyterian Church school in Philadelphia and, from 1793 to 1796, at an academy in Woodbury, New Jersey. He then spent two years at Princeton College but left in 1799 because of illness. Like his father, Hazard became a merchant and an editor of historical records. He took his apprenticeship in the prominent Philadelphia countinghouse of Robert Ralston, a family friend and a fellow “Old Light” Presbyterian. As a young man Hazard was involved in the formation of the American Literary Association in 1805 and the Phoenix Social Club in 1809. He also became a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in 1812 and the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture in 1814....

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Hume, Samuel James (14 June 1885–01 September 1962), scene designer, director, and educator, was born in Berkeley, California, the son of James Bunyan Hume, a law enforcement officer, and Linda Murison. He attended the University of California at Berkeley and became interested in theater. Before completing his degree, Hume went to Europe to study scene design under one of the most outspoken visionaries of the early twentieth century stage, Edward Gordon Craig. Craig insisted that the modern theater had become mired in what he called “photographic realism.” He proposed a visual theater that merged action, scene, and voice with scenic pictures that heightened the emotional aspects of the play. Hume studied for nearly a year at Craig’s Arena Goldoni School in Florence, Italy, before the outbreak of World War I forced the closing of the school. However, the influence of Craig on Hume was significant enough for him to return to the United States a confirmed devotee of Craig’s theories. It became Hume’s goal to bring the “New Stagecraft,” which was becoming predominant in Europe, to his homeland....

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Knight, Lucian Lamar (09 February 1868–19 November 1933), editor, archivist, and historian, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Confederate general George Walton Knight, a lawyer and cotton merchant, and his second wife, Clara Corinne Daniel, a teacher. Named for Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar...

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Levenson, Sam (28 December 1911–27 August 1980), comedian, author, and educator, was born Samuel Levenson in New York City, the son of Hyman Levenson, a tailor, and Rebecca Fishelman. Levenson attended Brooklyn College (now part of the City University of New York), graduating with a B.A. in 1934. From that year until 1946 he taught Spanish in Brooklyn high schools, also serving as a guidance counselor for the final five years. In 1936 he married his childhood sweetheart, Esther Levine, with whom he had two children. His former students and academic advisees still remember him as a warm and funny teacher who took a personal interest in them and their future....

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Leyda, Jay (12 February 1910–15 February 1988), translator, writer, filmmaker, and photographer, was born in Detroit, Michigan. His parents’ names are not known. Leyda grew up in Dayton, Ohio, where he spent his youth experimenting with photography, acting, painting, and sculpture. After high school, Leyda worked on a punch press in Dayton and apprenticed in the studio of the photo-secessionist Jane Reece. He arrived in New York City in 1929 to work as a darkroom assistant for the photographer Ralph Steiner and made a living photographing portraits for small magazines such as ...

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Macgowan, Kenneth (30 November 1888–27 April 1963), drama critic, director/producer, and theater educator, was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, the son of Peter Stainforth Macgowan and Susan Arletta Hall. Before he graduated from Harvard in 1911 he was already working as an assistant drama critic for the ...

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Matthews, Brander (21 February 1852–31 March 1929), author, scholar, and teacher, was born James Brander Matthews in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Edward Matthews, a prosperous broker in cotton, real estate, and railroads, and Virginia Brander. Educated privately in Europe and in New York City, where his father settled the family when Matthews was seven, he received his B.A. (1871) and M.A. (1874) from Columbia College. In 1873 Matthews married British actress Ada S. Smith; they had one daughter. That same year, he completed a law degree at Columbia, in preparation for managing the fortune he would inherit. However, when the financial panic of 1873 destroyed the family wealth, Matthews was left largely free to pursue his literary interests, particularly his enthusiasm for the theater. Although he worked for several years as a lawyer in his father’s New York City office, he devoted what time he could to studying, writing, and reviewing drama. “From my youth up, my strongest literary ambition was to write plays,” Matthews recalled in his autobiography, ...

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Mayer, Arthur Loeb (28 May 1886–14 April 1981), motion picture exhibitor, art film importer, and cinema historian, was born in Demopolis, Alabama, the son of Simon M. Mayer, a small-businessman, and Rachel Bernheim. Although born into an affluent German Jewish family in the South, Mayer spent most of his youth in New York City where his mother moved after his father’s death. Mayer attended private secondary schools and graduated with honors from Harvard College in 1907. An uncle introduced him to aspiring movie mogul Sam Goldfish, who hired Mayer as an assistant and trained him in motion picture publicity and ballyhoo. By the time Goldfish took the name ...

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Odell, George C. D. (19 March 1866–17 October 1949), theatrical scholar and college professor, was born George Clinton Densmore Odell in Newburgh, New York, the son of Benjamin Barker Odell, a businessman who served as mayor of the town, and Ophelia Bookstaver. His older brother Benjamin Odell, Jr., served as governor of New York state from 1900 to 1904. George received his early education at Siglar Preparatory School in Newburgh and went to Columbia University, his choice of colleges being largely dictated by his desire to be close to the New York theater scene. He completed his B.A. in 1889, his M.A. in 1890, and his Ph.D. in 1893; both graduate degrees were in the field of literature. His study of English and Scottish ballads was published during the final year of work on his doctorate, and a little later he became the editor of school editions of ...