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Aarons, Alexander A. (15 May 1890–14 March 1943), theatrical producer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Alfred E. Aarons, a theatrical composer and producer, and Josephine Hall. He was educated in New York schools. Aarons, whose producing career lasted only thirteen years, did not immediately take up his father’s profession, but after hearing ...

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Aarons, Alfred E. (16 November 1865–16 November 1936), theatrical manager and producer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Aaron Aarons, a clothier, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Educated in Philadelphia public schools, at age fifteen he began working in the box office of the Central Theater. After several other theatrical jobs, Aarons established a dramatic and vaudeville agency in Philadelphia; he opened an office in New York City after moving there in 1890. There in the same year he married Josephine Hall, an actress. They had three children....

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Abbott, George (25 June 1889–31 January 1995), theatrical director and producer, was born George Francis Abbott in Forestville, New York, the son of George Burwell Abbott, a tailor, town mayor, and government land agent, and May McLaury. Abbott received his early education and worked as a telegraph boy and a cowboy while moving from Wyoming to Nebraska to New York, where he earned a B.A. from the University of Rochester in 1911. Between 1911 and 1912 Abbott, who said he wanted to be a poet or journalist, was enrolled in ...

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Aldrich, Louis (01 October 1843–17 June 1901), actor and theatrical manager, was born Louis Lyon. Aldrich led a difficult early life, though precise details about his childhood or parentage are scant. He is variously said to have been born in Germany, on a ship in passage to the United States, or in a small town in Ohio. After his father’s death and his mother’s subsequent remarriage, he was adopted by a Cincinnati, Ohio, family, which then moved to Cleveland. In an 1894 interview Aldrich commented that he had been on his own since childhood, touring with a manager as a child prodigy. In 1855, at age eleven, he made his stage debut performing the title role in ...

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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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Ames, Winthrop (25 November 1870–03 November 1937), theatrical producer and theater owner, was born in North Easton, Massachusetts, the son of Oakes Angier Ames, a manufacturer, and Catherine Hobart. The Ames family was wealthy and socially prominent. Ames concluded his education at Harvard with a postgraduate year of dramatic studies. He had long been interested in the theater but, because of family opposition to a career in that field, he joined a Boston publishing firm, for which he founded two monthly magazines, ...

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Ayers, Lemuel Delos (22 January 1915–14 August 1955), theatrical designer and producer, was born in New York City, the son of Lemuel Delos Ayers, a physician, and Hazel Carleton Bisland. As a student at Princeton University, he was a member of the Theatre Intime and gained early recognition for his productions of ...

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Bloomgarden, Kermit (15 December 1904–20 September 1976), theater producer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Samuel Zemad Bloomgarden, a manufacturer of matzos, and Annie Groden. Raised in a prosperous Orthodox Jewish home in Brooklyn, he received art lessons at the Pratt Institute as a boy. However, after his father had suffered a series of strokes, the family’s financial situation changed for the worse. After graduating from high school in 1922, Bloomgarden attended evening classes at New York University and supported himself with a full-time office job. He received a bachelor of business science degree in 1926 and then became a certified public accountant....

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Brady, William Aloysius (19 June 1863–06 January 1950), theatrical producer and boxing promoter, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Terence A. Brady, a newspaper editor, and Catherine O’Keefe, a singer and entertainer. Brady was spirited away to New York at age four by his father when his parents’ marriage failed. With the briefest of public school educations, what he learned was mostly from his Shakespeare-loving father and on the streets of the city’s Lower East Side....

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Brisson, Frederick (17 March 1913–08 October 1984), stage and film producer, was born Carl Frederick Brisson, Jr., in Copenhagen, Denmark, the son of Carl Frederick Brisson, a Danish cabaret singing idol, and Cleo (maiden name unknown). At age ten, Brisson was taken to England, where he was educated and where he later began his lengthy career, the foundation of which had been formed when as a youngster he often accompanied his father on tour. After graduation from public school, he traveled as an advanced publicity man for Moss Empire Ltd., the owner of legitimate theaters in England....

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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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Browne, Maurice (12 February 1881–21 January 1955), actor, director, and producer, was born in Reading, England, the son of Frederick Herbert Browne, a distinguished teacher, and Francis-Anna “Marsie” Neligan, the founder of a number of successful private schools. Educated at the private schools of Ipswich, Temple Grove, and Winchester, Browne later attended Eastbourne College and received his B.A. from Cambridge University....

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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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Earl Carroll As a pilot during World War I, c. 1918. Courtesy of the National Archives (NWDNS-165-WW-432[P1524]).

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Carroll, Earl (16 September 1893–17 June 1948), theatrical producer and songwriter, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of James Carroll and Elizabeth Wills, hotelkeepers. At thirteen, Carroll became a program boy at a Pittsburgh theater. At seventeen, having graduated from Allegheny High School, he was assistant treasurer and box-office manager at another theater. He worked his passage around the world doing odd jobs, wrote for an English-language newspaper in the Orient, and, after visiting New York, became treasurer at Pittsburgh’s Nixon Theater....

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Claxton, Kate (24 August 1848–05 May 1924), actress and manager, was born Catherine Elizabeth Cone in Somerville, New Jersey, the daughter of Spencer Wallace Cone, a lawyer and writer, and Josephine Martinez. Educated in private schools in New York, including Miss Rostand’s Institute, and married “ill-advisedly” at seventeen to Isadore Lyon, whom she later divorced (they had no children), Claxton claimed she went on the stage seeking “the independence of self-support.” Although in his literary pursuits her father had written several produced plays and her grandfather acted before he joined the clergy, Claxton’s family was not supportive of her chosen profession. But Claxton saw acting as one of the few professions that enabled women to match the earning power of men. Aware of the familial opposition she would face in New York, she opted to begin her theatrical career in Chicago....

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Coe, Fred Hayden (23 December 1914–29 April 1979), television, film, and theater producer and director, was born in Alligator, Mississippi, the son of Frederick Hayden Coe and Annette Harroll. Coe was raised in Buckhorn, Kentucky, and Nashville, Tennessee, where he attended Peabody Demonstration School, writing the class play when he was twelve years old. He later studied at Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville. In 1938 he attended Yale Drama School, taking graduate studies until 1940, when he returned to Nashville to accept a job at radio station WSM. He also directed plays at a local Nashville community theater. He served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945. In the postwar period Coe became a pivotal figure in the early development of television, particularly the realm of live drama. In 1945 Coe was hired as a production manager at NBC and in 1948 produced and directed the acclaimed live dramatic series “Philco Television Playhouse,” which later became “Goodyear Playhouse.” These productions were intended to bring Broadway to American households, which they did admirably. From 1952 to 1956 Coe produced a variety of programs for NBC, including the situation comedy “Mr. Peepers,” with ...

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Comstock, F. Ray (1880–15 October 1949), producer and theatrical impresario, was born and raised in Lynn, Massachusetts, the son of David Comstock and Emma Dean. The family moved to Buffalo, New York, where their son began his career in the theater as an employee of the Star Theatre while still in his early teens. When he was fifteen years old, he struck out on his own, going to New York City, where he found employment as a ticket seller for the producer ...

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Conried, Heinrich (13 September 1855–27 April 1909), actor, theatrical director, and impresario, was born Heinrich Cohn in Bielitz, Austrian Silesia, the son of Joseph Cohn, a weaver, and Gretchen (maiden name unknown). It is not known when or why he changed his last name. Conried attended the Oberrealschule in Vienna, but he left school at the age of fifteen to be apprenticed to a weaver. His apprenticeship soon ended, and he secured a position as a bank clerk in Vienna. Attracted to the world of the theater, Conried frequented theaters and cafés where actors congregated. At such a café Conried met August Foerster, the stage manager of the Hofburg Theater, who coached him. Shortly thereafter, around 1870, Conried was cast in minor roles at the Hofburg. He quit his job at the bank and for the first time told his disapproving family of his interest in acting....