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Mack Gordon Papers

Composer:
Myrow, Josef  Search this
Revel, Harry -- 20th century  Search this
Warren, Harry, 1893-1981 -- 20th century  Search this
Creator:
Gordon, Mack, 1904-1959  Search this
Actor:
Berle, Milton  Search this
Dailey, Dan  Search this
Dunne, Irene -- 20th century  Search this
Faye, Alice -- 20th century  Search this
Gable, Clark, 1901-1960 -- 20th century  Search this
Henie, Sonja, 1912-1969 -- 20th century  Search this
Lombard, Carole -- 20th century  Search this
O'Hara, Maureen, 1920- -- 20th century  Search this
Oakie, Jack, 1903-1978 -- 20th century  Search this
Payne, John -- 20th century  Search this
Power, Tyrone, 1914-1958 -- 20th century  Search this
Taylor, Robert -- 20th century  Search this
Singer:
Cantor, Eddie, 1892-1964  Search this
Crosby, Bing, 1904-1977  Search this
Fisher, Eddie -- 20th century  Search this
Jolson, Al, d. 1950 -- 20th century  Search this
Langford, Frances -- 20th century  Search this
Merman, Ethel -- 20th century  Search this
Dancer:
Castle, Nick -- 20th century  Search this
Producer:
Grainger, Edmund -- 20th century  Search this
Director:
Taurog, Norman -- 20th century  Search this
Extent:
1 Motion picture film
3 Cubic feet (9 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Motion picture films
Motion pictures (visual works)
Motion picture stills
Passports
Contracts
Correspondence
Clippings
Business records
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Photograph albums
Songs
Writings
Scripts (documents)
Sheet music
Date:
1926-1977, undated
Summary:
Mack Gordon (1904-1959) was a prolific and successful songwriter, lyricist, and composer. He composed songs for stage and screen. He and Harry Warren won the Academy Award for Best Song in 1943.
Scope and Contents:
The papers document the life and career of songwriter Mack Gordon. They include business records, both personal and business correspondence, contracts, royalty statements, commercially published sheet music, a script for the motion picture Three Little Girls in Blue, photograph albums, a scrapbook of clippings, original music manuscripts, notes and writings that may have served as mnemonic devices for song ideas, an excerpt from the Paramount short film, The Collegians, funeral materials, name change documents, and a passport. The production and creative files give insight into Gordon's creative process, and ideas for lyrics, song titles, and word play are found throughout these files.

The collection is organized in seven series.

Series 1: Production and Creative Files, 1931-1950, undated. This series contains files relating to motion picture and theatrical productions, both produced and unproduced. This series also contains unidentified lyric notes, instrumental sketches, and themes.

Series 2: Business Records, 1931-1975, undated. This series contains business records, royalty contracts, telegrams, correspondence and other business records pertaining to Gordon and his work for theatrical and motion picture companies.

Series 3: Original Music Manuscripts, 1940-1952, undated. This series contains original music manuscripts written by Gordon.

Series 4: Commercial Sheet Music, 1928-1959, undated. This series contains commercially published sheet music. The sheet music was bound by Gordon into volumes he titled, Majors & Minors, there is also a folder of unbound sheet music.

Series 5: Personal and Family, 1935-1977, undated. This series contains personal documents such as passports, life insurance documents, name change documents, the auction catalogue from the sale of furnishings at Gordon's Pacific Palisades home. This series also contains personal correspondence from singer Sandra Werner to Gordon.

Series 6: Photographs, 1933-1956, undated

Series 7: Audio-Visual, 1926
Arrangement:
The collection is organized in seven series.

Series 1: Production and Creative Files, 1931-1950, undated

Series 2: Business Records, 1931-1975, undated

Series 3: Original Music Manuscripts, 1940-1952, undated

Series 4: Commercial Sheet Music, 1928-1959, undated

Series 5: Personal and Family, 1935-1977, undated

Series 6: Photographs, 1933-1956, undated

Series 7: Audio-Visual, 1926
Biographical / Historical:
Mack Gordon was a prolific and successful songwriter, lyricist, and composer who composed songs for stage and screen. Born Morris Gitler (he legally changed his name to Mack Gordon in later life) in Poland on June 21, 1904, his family immigrated to the United States in 1908 and settled in New York. His early career was as a performer in vaudeville and minstrel shows, but by the early 1930s he had formed a songwriting partnership with pianist Harry Revel. Gordon wrote for the Broadway stage and eventually made his way to Hollywood where he worked at a number of different motion picture studios.

In addition to Revel, Gordon worked with such well-known composers as Harry Warren, with whom he won his only Academy Award for Best Song for "You'll Never Know" from Hello Frisco Hello, and Josef Myrow, to name just three. Some of his more famous songs are "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "At Last," and "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?". He was nominated for the Academy Award nine times and became a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He died on February 28, 1959 in New York City (some biographies have his date of death as March 1), and is entombed at the Corridor of Immortality at the Home of Peace Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California.
Provenance:
Collection donated to the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution by Jack Gordon, son of Mack Gordon, in 2015.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Occupation:
Motion picture actors and actresses  Search this
Composers  Search this
Topic:
Motion pictures -- 1930-1940  Search this
Motion pictures, American  Search this
Motion pictures and music -- 1930-1970  Search this
Theater  Search this
Musicals  Search this
Music -- 20th century  Search this
Motion pictures  Search this
Musical theater  Search this
Music -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Motion pictures (visual works) -- 1930-1950
Motion picture stills
Passports
Contracts -- 20th century
Correspondence -- 20th century
Clippings -- 20th century
Business records -- 20th century
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 20th century
Scrapbooks -- 1930-1940
Photograph albums -- 20th century
Songs
Writings
Scripts (documents)
Sheet music -- 20th century
Citation:
Mack Gordon Papers, 1926-1977, undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1363
See more items in:
Mack Gordon Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1363

The Wizard of Oz [sheet music]

Lyricist:
Harburg, E.Y.  Search this
Composer:
Arlen, Harold  Search this
Publisher:
Leo Feist inc.  Search this
Series Creator:
DeVincent, Sam, 1918-1997  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (Ink on paper.)
Container:
Box 3, Folder G
Type:
Archival materials
Sheet music
Date:
1939
Scope and Contents:
Cover illustration: the faces of five of the main characters of the movie "The Wizard of Oz" and cartoon variations of the characters on the sides with descriptive text in the middle. Printed in orange and blue.
Local Numbers:
AC0300-0000015.tif (AC Scan No.: cover)
Series Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Series Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Musical films  Search this
Motion pictures -- 1930-1940  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sheet music -- 1930-1940
Series Citation:
The Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Series 6: Moving Pictures and Movie Stars
Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Series 6: Moving Pictures and Movie Stars / 6.2: Child Stars
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0300-s06-ref142

Robert L. Shurr Script and Scrapbook for the Motion Picture "George Washington Carver"

Creator:
Parker, Ben (scriptwriter)  Search this
Shurr, Robert L. (scriptwriter)  Search this
Names:
RKO Pictures.  Search this
Tuskegee Institute  Search this
Carver, George Washington, 1864?-1943  Search this
Extent:
0.2 Cubic feet (2 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Film stills
Clippings
Press releases
Screenplays
Scrapbooks
Date:
1939-1940, 1968
Summary:
The film, George Washington Carver, starring Carver himself, was filmed in 1939 and released in 1940. Ben Parker was the director and Robert L. Shurr wrote the screenplay.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of a copy of the original script for the motion picture George Washington Carver and a scrapbook detailing the motion picture's press. The bulk of the material dates to the production and release of the film, 1939-1940. There is additional correspondence from Shurr concerning the film dated 1968. The scrapbook contains photographs from the film. There are reference copies for the script and scrapbook.
Biographical / Historical:
The film, George Washington Carver, was an independent production of Bryant Productions, directed by Ben Parker and written by Robert L. Shurr. An article on Dr. George Washington Carver in Life magazine reportedly inspired the original idea for Parker. After a personal visit by Parker, Carver consented not only to approve the film but to appear in it. Parker engaged Robert L. Shurr to write the screenplay, originally titled Devil Cotton or the Story of Dr. Carver. The screenplay combined both a documentary and fictional narrative style. The screenplay detailed Carver's early life including a fictitious romantic relationship. The cast included: Ralph Edwards, Raye Gilbert, John J. Marvin, and Milton Sprague.

Raising funds for the project and making the film were both difficult. Parker eventually raised $2,000 from Allen McDowell who is listed as one of the film's producers. The film, which reportedly cost $14,000, was shot in Alabama with a small crew and very basic equipment. The film crew and those helping with the filming experienced violence from the white community which reportedly stoned McDowell and two of the film's local white participants. The film was released independently and played in a few RKO owned theatres but apparently never recouped its cost. In 1940, $10,000 was taken in at the film's premiere at Tuskegee Institute. Most likely, this was the film's largest audience.

We have no further information about the production or producer, our initial research has been unable to locate any further details concerning this film. A print of the film in its entirety is not known to exist, but portions of it are seen in a thirty minute video from Schlesinger Video Productions entitled Black Americans of Achievement: George Washington Carver.

Carver, a world famous agrichemist, was born near Diamond Grove, Missouri, circa 1864 to a woman named Mary. In 1896, he went to Tuskegee Institute as the head of the Agricultural Department and stayed there until his death on January 5, 1943.

Carver found many uses for the peanut, sweet potato, pecan, soybean, and cotton stalk. His important contributions to the Southern economy were: to diversify, utilize the land more efficiently, and in an ecologically friendly way, build up the soil, cope with plant diseases, and utilize research results in farm activities.

Among the many honors he received were: fellow, British Royal Society of Arts, 1916; Spingarn Medal from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 1923; and the Theodore Roosevelt Medal, 1939. He was widely admired and Henry Ford included a replica of his birthplace at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan.

In his personal life Carver was never married and current scholarship indicates that he may have been homosexual. The historian, Horace L. Griffin, in his 2006 book Their Own Receive Them Not: African American Lesbians & Gays in Black Churches, details the clandestine homosexual life of Carver and others. Pertaining to Carver's habit of giving peanut oil massages to his male friends, Linda O. McMurry in her 1982 biography of Carver, George Washington Carver, Scientist and Symbol, relates, "Most of his male friends received at least one massage from the professor," but evidence that it ever went beyond massage is not detailed. Beginning in 1935, Carver's constant companion was Austin W. Curtis, Jr. a graduate of Cornell who taught at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College before coming to Tuskegee and joining Carver as his assistant.

Rackham Holt, Carver's biographer, describes the relationship between the two men in his 1943 biography, George Washington Carver: an American Biography, "At last someone had been welcomed not merely into Dr. Carver's laboratory, but also into his heart. He believed that there was something providential in the coming of this young man, so intensely serious about his work and extremely competent at it, who was at the same time a genial companion; he was proud of him and loved and depended on him as his own son . . . . And the affection was returned in full measure. Mr. Curtis accompanied him everywhere, seeing to his comfort, shielding him from intrusion, and acting as his official mouthpiece." Carver had a standing invitation to visit Henry Ford at his plantation in Ways, Georgia, where guest rooms were kept prepared for both Carver and Curtis. Carver died in Tuskegee, Alabama on January 5, 1943 and was buried in the churchyard of the college chapel. The National Park Service owns and maintains 210 acres of the farm where Carver was born as the George Washington Carver National Monument.
Provenance:
The collection was donated by Robert L. Shurr in October 1984.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at archivescenter@si.edu or 202-633-3270.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Motion pictures -- 1930-1940  Search this
Cotton stalks  Search this
Plant diseases  Search this
Pecan  Search this
Peanuts  Search this
Sweet potatoes  Search this
Agricultural chemists  Search this
Agriculture -- Research  Search this
African American scientists  Search this
Agricultural chemistry  Search this
Genre/Form:
Film stills
Clippings -- 1930-1950
Press releases -- 1930-1940
Screenplays -- 1930-1940
Scrapbooks -- 1900-1950
Citation:
Robert L. Shurr Script and Scrapbook for the Motion Picture "George Washington Carver", 1939-1968, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0133
See more items in:
Robert L. Shurr Script and Scrapbook for the Motion Picture "George Washington Carver"
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0133

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