American Theatre Companies, 1888-1930

By Weldon B. Durham | Go to book overview
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Published Sources:

New York Dramatic Mirror, 1898- 1904.

New York Times, 1898- 1904.

Archival Resources:

New York, New York. New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre History Collection. Contains an incomplete collection of programs, 1898- 1903 and 1903-4, as well as scrapbooks of Dorothy Donnelly, Frances Starr, Edwin Holt, George Henry Trader, Laura Hope Crews, Ralph Stuart, and Robert Drouet. Priestley Morrison production notes for As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet also are available.

Weldon B. Durham




[HENRY "TERRY"] DUFFY PLAYERS. Henry Duffy ( 1890- 1961) went to Los Angeles in 1920 to appear in two plays produced by Oliver Morosco at the Mason Opera House, and he soon appeared in three more works under Morosco's aegis, following one to New York for a brief run on Broadway. He made an abortive attempt to produce a single play in Los Angeles in 1923, after having managed companies producing Abie Irish Rose, written by his wife, actress Anne Nichols. Success in stock management in Montreal in 1924, following his separation from Nichols, emboldened him to try to organize a chain of stock companies on the West Coast, beginning in 1924 with the Alcazar Theatre Stock Company* in San Francisco. By 1929, he would own nine playhouses in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles (see [Henry] Duffy Stock Chain).

On July 14, 1927, he opened his first Los Angeles company at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. The El Capitan, seating 1,532, was the first legitimate theatre in Hollywood, opening May 3, 1926, under Edward Smith's direction with Charlot's Revue. For one year Smith presented a series of sophisticated plays, but he was unable to find an audience to support this policy. Duffy's policy was almost the opposite. He offered plays which affirmed the status quo, plays built around readily recognized characters and upon the equation that what happened on stage could occur in one's own life, plays which affirmed the national belief that hard work and a lucky break brought success, social recognition, and an attractive mate. In addition to an effort to present "clean plays" for the family trade, Duffy attempted to build a loyal audience. He


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American Theatre Companies, 1888-1930
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