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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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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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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 ...