Thomas A Curry Photographs of David Belasco
Historic Photograph Collections
Thomas Albert Curry Sr. photographs of David Belasco, c. 1914-1931.
Collection number: PH113
Extent: 1.25 linear ft. (3 container)
Thomas Albert Curry was the private secretary to noted American playwright, impresario, director and theatrical producer David Belasco (1853-1931) from 1914-1931. The collection consists of portraits of Belasco, his family and colleagues, and publicity shots from Broadway productions, compiled for an intended biography.
Preferred citation: [Identification of item], Thomas A. Curry Sr. photographs, PH113-[item number], Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-1299.
Image shown: Above is a publicity image from Belasco's production of Mima, 1929-1930. Thomas A. Curry Sr. photographs, PH113, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-1299. The second image is David Belasco inside the Belasco Theatre, consulting with the technical department. The third image is a publicity image of Janet Beecher (1884-1955) and Fania Marinoff (1890-1971), wife of Carl Van Vechten, in a 1920 production of Call the Doctor.
Thomas Albert Curry (dates unknown) was a writer and, from 1914 to 1931, private secretary to famed theater producer David Belasco (1853-1931). Curry was born in Hartford, Connecticut and was involved in the theater as a young man. After his marriage in 1893 he worked as a reporter and in advertising. He returned to the theater in 1913 when he submitted a play to several producers, including Belasco. Belasco liked the play enough to work on the script with Curry. After the death of Belasco's private secretary, he offered the position to Curry. Curry accepted and remained Belasco's secretary until the producer's death. Thomas Curry's son Thomas Albert Curry, Jr. (1900-1976) was a prominent writer of adventure stories and novels.
David Belasco was born July 25, 1853, in San Francisco, CA. His parents were Sephardic Jews who had immigrated from London. He worked his way up in the theatre business in San Francisco and moved to Broadway in 1882 as a stage manager and playwright. He was very successful and became an independent producer in 1895. His habitual clothing, and enormous influence, earned him the nickname "The Bishop of Broadway." Belasco wrote Madame Butterfly and the Girl of the Golden West, from which Puccini created operatic adaptions. During his career David Belasco wrote, produced or directed more than 100 Broadway plays, and introduced actresses such as Lenore Ulric (1892-1970), Mary Pickford (1892-1979), and Grace Andrews Fiero (dates unknown). Belasco maintained his own theatre, used cutting edge technology, and established a standard of naturalism in American theatre. He was married to Cecilia Loverich and had two daughters, Augusta and Reina; Reina married theatrical producer Morris Gest (1875-1942). David Belasco died May 14, 1931.
Scope and Content Note
The collection consist of about 100 prints, processed to the folder level. It is arranged in groups of David Belasco portraits, Belasco family and friends, production images, and photos of Belasco with colleagues. Many of the images are identified. The principal photographer is the White Studio of New York. With the exception of some of the early family images, the bulk of the collection dates from Curry's employment period, 1914-1931.
Box 1 contains images up to 8x10, box 2 contains larger production images, and box 3 contains larger images of Belasco portraits and Belasco with colleagues.
The papers of Thomas A. Curry Sr. are housed under the number Ax 315, and those of his son, writer Tom Curry, as Ax 318, in the Manuscripts unit of Special Collections & University Archives.
Publication rights: Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish images must be submitted to the Photographs Curator of Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.
Access restrictions: None.
Provenance: The collection was donated in 1967 by Thomas A. Curry Jr.
Processed by: Normandy S. Helmer
Date Completed: August 2009