Kermit Bloomgarden Papers, 1938-1977

Scope and Content Note

Bloomgarden's papers consist primarily of production files for Produced Plays; with smaller files of Unproduced Theater, Television, and Film Projects, consisting of correspondence and general materials, and plays considered for stage, television and film production; and Bloomgarden's Personal and General Business Records. Among the plays considered for production and rejected by Bloomgarden are many which were produced later by others in New York or at other times in Europe; nevertheless all such files are located here in the Unproduced Theater, Television, and Film Projects series.

PRODUCED PLAYS are listed alphabetically by title of production and include some of Bloomgarden's most successful shows. Within each production materials are also listed alphabetically by title or subject of the file. Included are production contracts between Bloomgarden, his assistant, Max Allentuck, or the play company, and actors, singers, dancers, director, managers, stagehands and crew, musicians, scenic artists, press agents, costume and equipment suppliers, lighting contracts, designers, theaters, and others concerned with the production of the play. Also filed here are the original contracts between producer and author and director to purchase production rights to the work.

There is a minimum of general correspondence pertaining to most of Bloomgarden's plays; most existing correspondence pertains to preproduction work. Correspondence files often include letters to and from the author, prospective cast members, suppliers, and if the play was successful, congratulatory letters from friends and the general public.

Financial statements include monthly and periodic (usually less frequent as time passed) statements of box office receipts and production disbursements; the weekly financial statements contain similar information but were prepared in greater detail and also give a weekly profit or loss balance. Additional information about the financial status of a play in production can be found in the weekly settlements and statements, prepared by theater management or Max Allentuck at the close of business each week, and providing detailed summaries of expenses. Receipts and ticket sales at the theater are listed for each performance in the box office statements, and in occasional separate folders of opening night and other ticket sales reports. Many routine daily bills, invoices, vouchers, receipts, and IOUs which were summarized in weekly or monthly financial records, were discarded. Records of royalty payments to authors, directors, and designers, and of royalties received from U.S. amateur and stock productions and from foreign productions, are filed separately. Also separate are weekly salary and payroll lists for cast and staff.

Partnership agreement files also include business certificates, signed agreements, Securities and Exchange Commission correspondence and circulars, prospectuses, correspondence with and lists of investors, overcall correspondence and receipts (if any), and occasionally, records of the dissolution of the partnership. Tax returns for each production also list the names of investors, together with any profits distributed during each calendar year, and the total profit or loss and expenditures of the play company.

Other files include playbills and programs; invoices, mainly from Clifford Strohl for publicity and advertising; with some advertising copy, press releases, and other promotional material.

Technical production records include floor plans, elevations, working drawings, sketches, light plots, costumes, property and furniture plots, and prompt books (the latter are filed with Scripts).

Scripts of the plays, with revisions and rewrites of the script, are also present for most produced plays. In many cases, these are supplemented by script notes prepared by Bloomgarden's staff and by correspondence between the producer and the author.

The clippings volumes and loose clippings, mainly reviews of productions, have been microfilmed. Seven volumes of New York Theater Critics' Reviews (1946-1952) were separated to the University of Wisconsin Speech Department at the time of initial processing.

UNPRODUCED THEATER, TELEVISION, AND FILM PROJECTS contain little documentation for each title, but usually include a contract to purchase or place an option on the author's work, scattered correspondence, and occasionally a script or other records. Often there are notes prepared by a member of Bloomgarden's staff or a reader, critiquing the script and offering suggestions for revisions.

PERSONAL AND GENERAL BUSINESS RECORDS contain Bloomgarden's personal and family papers and scattered business records of his investments and companies. Personal papers include biographical information, photographs of Kermit Bloomgarden and Lillian Hellman, apartment leases and papers, a list of office files, and correspondence. The correspondence includes general and personal correspondence, complimentary letters pertaining to Bloomgarden's theatrical productions; a file of correspondence with playwright Arthur Miller, including letters pertaining to Marilyn Monroe (Box 52, Folder 25); letters from Harry Handel, who called himself Arthur Miller's “alter ego”; correspondence and applications from the Ford Foundation Program for Playwrights, 1958; correspondence with Melina Mercouri regarding a proposed 1973 one-woman show; and personal letters concerning his working relationship with writers John and Marguerite Sanford, 1955-1956.

Records of Bloomgarden's personal and family finances include stockbroker's records and accounts of Bloomgarden's investments in stocks and bonds; correspondence, reports, and production information from oil wells; financial statements, partnership agreements, and correspondence from such plays as Anne of a Thousand Days, Detective Story, Joan of Lorraine, and The Searching Wind; and tax returns for Kermit and Virginia Bloomgarden and their sons. There are also sizable files of actors' job applications, inquiries, and photographs, 1956-1964; general records regarding play finances; a television representation contract and a proposal to work with Columbia Pictures; lists of investors in Bloomgarden's productions and correspondence regarding loans; lists of theatrical equipment owned and leased to others by Bloomgarden; and miscellaneous publicity and advertising files.

From the Kergin Corporation, one of Bloomgarden's business enterprises, there are fragmentary files, including a certificate of incorporation, correspondence, financial statements, stock records, and tax returns. Kermit Bloomgarden Productions Inc. is represented by general correspondence, 1954-1976; a financial statement; records of the Goodman and Berger vs. Bloomgarden lawsuit, 1972-1974; minutes of board of directors' and stockholders' meetings; and tax returns.

Bloomgarden's activities in theatrical and other organizations are illustrated in files concerning the Actors' Equity League strike, 1960; minutes, correspondence, scripts and photographs regarding the American Theatre Wing, 1942-1961; correspondence and financial records of the Committee of Theatrical Producers, 1949-1952; correspondence, minutes, reports, and promotional material and other records about the 1951 film, Main Street to Broadway, from the Council of the Living Theatre; and correspondence and other records from Fund for the Republic Inc., 1955-1957; Greater New York Fund, 1958 Campaign; Independent Booking Office, 1958, 1960; Joint Committee of the Theatre Guild-American Theatre Society and the Council of the Living Theatre, 1958-1960; League of New York Theatres Inc., 1957-1958; Mary McArthur Memorial Fund, 1959-1961; New Dramatists Committee; and Seventy Cent Ticket Plan.

On tape and disc recordings is music composed for Bloomgarden's plays. The one film is of a television production whose significance to Bloomgarden is unknown.