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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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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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de Liagre, Alfred (06 October 1904–05 March 1987), theatrical producer and director, was born Alfred Gustav Etienne de Liagre, Jr., in Passaic, New Jersey, the son of Alfred de Liagre, Sr., a textile manufacturer, and Frida Unger. De Liagre was born to wealth. After education at a private school and graduation from Yale University in 1926, he worked briefly on Wall Street. Then he traveled around the world as an aspiring journalist. It was travel in the grand style: he dined with eminences from former Kaiser Wilhelm II in Doorn to Mahatma Gandhi in India....

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Deeter, Jasper (31 July 1893–31 May 1972), theater actor, director, producer, and teacher, was born in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, the son of Jasper Newton Deeter, a successful businessman, and Sarah Mather, a singer and voice teacher. As a boy Deeter participated in amateur dramatics at the local Episcopal church. At Conway Hall prep school in Carlisle (Penn.), he performed in two school productions before graduating in 1911. Deeter withdrew from Lafayette College during his first term upon discovering that freshmen were denied participation in dramatics. In 1913, while working as a reporter and copyreader for the Harrisburg ...

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Dowling, Eddie (09 December 1894–18 February 1976), actor, director, and producer, was born Joseph Nelson Goucher in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, the son of Charles Goucher and Bridget Mary Dowling. The fourteenth of seventeen children, Dowling attended parochial schools, but by age ten he had run away to Boston and started his performing career by singing Irish ballads in music shops and outside barrooms. At eleven, having taken his mother’s maiden name, Dowling became a cabin boy on the Fall River Line....

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Guthrie, Tyrone (02 July 1900–15 May 1971), theater director and producer, was born William Tyrone Guthrie in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, the son of Thomas Clement Guthrie, a socially conscious physician and surgeon of Scottish descent, and Norah Power Guthrie, who had Protestant Irish forebears. Thomas Guthrie was the namesake of his grandfather, a noted nineteenth-century preacher and philanthropist; Norah Guthrie was a granddaughter of a famous nineteenth-century comedian named Tyrone Power, whose great-grandson of the same name became a Hollywood film star in the 1940s. Tyrone Guthrie was educated at Wellington College in Berkshire and at St. John's College, Oxford....

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Tyrone Guthrie. Oil on canvas, by Boris Chaliapin. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Hards, Ira (24 June 1872–02 May 1938), stage actor, director, and producer, was born in Geneva, Illinois, the son of parents whose names are unknown. Hards excelled in elocution, oration, and impersonation in Geneva public schools, graduating from high school in 1887. At the University of California, Berkeley, from 1892 to 1894, the “rising star” took every course offered in the English department, “winning from one of his professors the assertion that he was the most brilliant student of English the university had ever known” ( ...

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Harris, Jed (25 February 1900–15 November 1979), Broadway theatrical producer and director, was born Jacob Hirsch Horowitz in Lemburg, Austria, the son of Meyer Horowitz and Esther (maiden name unknown). Before his first birthday, the family emigrated to Newark, New Jersey, where his father began a retail/wholesale business selling cheeses, grains, and vegetables. Upon being graduated from a local high school in June 1917, Jacob entered Yale University, only to be ostracized for being poor and Jewish. After three years he dropped out, disgusted with this treatment and generally disinclined to study anyway....

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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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Hopkins, Arthur Melancthon (04 October 1878–22 March 1950), theater producer and director, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the youngest son of David John Hopkins, a wire mill foreman, and Mary Jefferies. His mother, a Presbyterian minister’s daughter, insisted that the young Hopkins be tutored in elocution, and the bombastic vocal style spawned Hopkins’s lifelong aversion to “ham acting.” His last formal education was at the boys’ preparatory school, Western Reserve Academy, in Hudson, Ohio....

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Houseman, John (22 September 1902–31 October 1988), producer, director, and actor, was born Jacques Haussmann in Bucharest, Romania, the son of Georges Haussmann, a Jewish-Alsatian grain merchant, and May Davies, a British woman of Welsh and Irish descent. As a small child Houseman spoke English to his mother, French to his father, German to his governess, and Romanian to the household staff. When Houseman was five years old, the grain business run by his father’s family went bankrupt, and he moved with his parents to Paris, where his father became a broker in commodities. At age seven Houseman was sent to the Clifton School in Bristol, England. Summer vacations and holidays were spent with his parents in France. His father died in 1917. After completing his studies at Clifton in December 1920, Houseman lived for a year in Argentina, working on a cattle ranch and as a clerk at the Dutch Bank of South America. Returning to England, he turned down a scholarship to Cambridge University in order to help support his mother and became an apprentice at an international grain brokerage in London....

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Kaminska, Ida (04 September 1899–21 May 1980), actress, director, and producer, was born in Odessa, Russia, the daughter of Avram Izhak (Abraham Isaac) Kaminski and Ester Rachel Halpern. Her father was an actor, director, and producer at the family’s Yiddish theater in Warsaw, and her mother was a famous Yiddish actress known as “the Jewish ...

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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 ...

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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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McClintic, Guthrie (06 August 1893–29 October 1961), director and producer, was born in Seattle, Washington, the son of cousins both surnamed McClintic, Edgar Daggs and Ella Florence. His father worked in the Seattle Assay Office and wanted his only child to become a lawyer. McClintic wanted to be an actor. When he was age twelve, he followed a group of actors through a stage door and was entranced by the backstage atmosphere. He stayed to watch the rehearsal and returned every Saturday for matinees. His father objected to his interest in theater, resulting in bitter quarrels. His father relented when McClintic graduated from high school in 1910, and he sent him to the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York City....

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Miller, Gilbert Heron (03 July 1884–02 January 1969), theatrical producer and director, was born in New York City, the son of Henry Miller, a leading actor-manager, and Helene Stoepel, an actress who used the stage name Bijou Heron (she was the daughter of ...

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Reinhardt, Max (09 September 1873–31 October 1943), theatrical director and producer, was born Max Goldmann in the Austrian town of Baden, near Vienna, the son of Jewish parents of modest means whose names and occupations are unknown. The family moved to Vienna when Max was four years old, and he grew up in that city. At an early age he became captivated by the stage, and during his boyhood he was a habitué of the gallery at Vienna's Hofburg Theatre, seeing nearly every play produced there. In his teens he began acting in amateur productions in Vienna, and beginning in 1890 he received formal training in the dramatic arts at the Sulkowsky Theater in Matzleinsdorf. In 1893, following scores of appearances in theaters in and around Vienna playing minor roles in popular plays, he was hired as an assistant director at the Stadttheater in Salzburg but also continued his acting career. A year later he moved on to the Deutsches Theater in Berlin at the invitation of its new director, Otto Brahm....

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Shumlin, Herman (06 December 1898–14 June 1979), producer and director, was born in Atwood, Colorado, the son of George Shumlin, a one-time farmer, factory worker, and merchant, and Rebecca Slavin. The family moved around a great deal during the early part of his life. A farming venture in Colorado failed, and the family moved to West Pullman, Illinois, when Shumlin was two years old. Financial hardships often kept the family on the move looking for work. When it was time for Shumlin to attend high school the family was in New Jersey, where he attended the Barringer School for one year before he was forced to quit and work in a factory. Shumlin was fired from the factory and labeled a “socialist” when he complained about the workers’ safety. His father fostered these ideas by subscribing to a liberal newspaper for his son and prompted him to become politically active. After his father died in 1915, Shumlin supported his mother until she remarried....