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Theater Playbills

 Collection
Identifier: MS-2804

This collection consists of Broadway playbills from the early 1920s into the 1960s; the collection also contains playbills from other theaters around the country, including the Shubert Theater in New Haven, the Barter Theater in Virginia and the Bijou, Carousel, and Staub theaters of Knoxville, Tenn., some of which date as far back as 1890. The collection also includes the 1909 program for the first silent movie shown in Knoxville, Little Johnny Jones. Also included are music programs from Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera House, the Royal Opera House, the Boston Symphony, various Ballet productions and the Knoxville Symphony. Copies of Photoplay and Cue magazines, along with a special addition TV Guide America's Long Vigil, appear in the collection. Other items of interest include: a photograph of Will Rogers, a Radio City Music Hall Pictorial and a book on Robert Goulet. Other playbills can be found in MS.2800.

Dates

  • 1890-1969

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.

Extent

5.84 Linear Feet

Abstract

This collection consists of Broadway playbills from the early 1920s into the 1960s; the collection also contains playbills from other theaters around the country, including the Shubert Theater in New Haven, Connecticut, the Barter Theater in Virginia and the Bijou, Carousel, and Staub theaters of Knoxville, Tenn., some of which date as far back as 1890.

Biographical/Historical Note

Before televisions were a mainstay in every American living room and before special effects were the name of the game in film, Americans sought out their local playhouses for entertainment. Home to 39 professional theaters, shows staged on Broadway are touted as the highest level of English language stage productions. However, during the early to mid-twentieth century Theater was booming on other streets of America as well. These other regional theaters -- or, professional troupes that produce their own seasons -- generally reproduce Broadways plays and musicals along with classic dramas and comedies. There are over 80 regional playhouses in the United States.

Over its nearly 200 year history, Knoxville's Bijou Theater has been a business building, tavern, movie house, hotel, a used car lot, a fruit stand, and an adult movie house before settling in as the playhouse and music venue it is today. During its time as a vaudeville theater such notable acts as the Marx Brothers and John Philip Sousa performed. The Bijou, however, did not begin staging plays until the 1940s -- and, even then, not on a regular basis. In 1973 the Bijou was closed and scheduled to be demolished due to unpaid rent and amusement taxes. However, the Knoxville Heritage Group managed to raise the $375,000 needed to save the theater, so that current Knoxvillians may still enjoy the historic theater. The theater is Tennessee's oldest and is on the national register of historic places. Other historically significant theaters in Knoxville include the Carousel, Staub's, and the recently remodeled Tennessee Theater, which is the Official State Theater of Tennessee.

Arrangement

Collection consists of six boxes. Material is divided into four series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: Program Binders, 1929-1951
  2. Series II: Playbills, 1890-1969
  3. Series III: Magazines and Brochures, 1916-1968
  4. Series IV: Ephemera, undated

Acquisition Note

Collection is property of Special Collections.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

Contact:
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA
865-974-4480