KALMAR FAMILY SHOW BUSINESS LETTER ARCHIVE. Entertainment, Bert Kalmar.
KALMAR FAMILY SHOW BUSINESS LETTER ARCHIVE
KALMAR FAMILY SHOW BUSINESS LETTER ARCHIVE
KALMAR FAMILY SHOW BUSINESS LETTER ARCHIVE
KALMAR FAMILY SHOW BUSINESS LETTER ARCHIVE
KALMAR FAMILY SHOW BUSINESS LETTER ARCHIVE

KALMAR FAMILY SHOW BUSINESS LETTER ARCHIVE

An archive of holographic letters written by members of a multi-generational show business family which found success on the stage and screen and behind the scenes from Broadway to Hollywood. The family patriarch was Bert Kalmar (born Albert Kalvarinsky, 1884 -1947), a successful lyricist who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. He entered show business as a vaudeville magician and comedian and became a songwriter after a knee injury sidelined his stage career. In addition to yielding numerous hits for the Marx Brothers, his partnership with Harry Ruby was portrayed in the 1950 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical Three Little Words with Fred Astaire and Red Skelton. Before turning to songwriting, Kalmar was in a vaudeville act with Jessie Brown (1892–1985), whom he married in 1910. They had two children: Irving Bert Kalmar, Jr. (1913–97) and Margaret “Peggy” Kalmar (1928–64). Peggy married Robert Allison in 1950 and had no children. This archive contains more than 200 letters, mostly written by Bert Jr. and Peggy to their parents, as well as several dozen cards from friends sent upon the songwriter’s death in 1947. The letters span from the 1930s to the 1980s. The collection includes a few business-related letters about projects in development, as well as royalty and tax statements following Bert Sr.’s death. Among the condolences for Kalmar Sr.’s death are letters from Hollywood notables. Tillie Winslow, the wife of Columbia Picture musical producer Max Winslow, wrote: “I am so sorry to hear of Bert’s passing. There is so little one can say to help one in times of sorrow. I know how hard the heart can hurt and I feel very keenly for you.” Kalmar Jr., also known as “Bigs,” followed in his parents’ footsteps and pursued a career in acting, achieving some limited success. Numerous letters in the collection recount his years traveling with a variety of stage productions. In 1943-44, he appeared with Ethel Barrymore in the production “The Corn is Green.” He joined the show in February, and recalled the following in a letter to his parents: “I found out to my great surprise that the understudy they had and who had a few lines in Welsh and one in English was leaving before the show that night and I had to learn his business and Welsh lines and go on. The first scene was in mining clothes with soot all over my face. Then in eight minutes I had to have the soot off and juvenile make up on and change clothes for the next scene. I made it. It all went smoothly. Before I went on, Miss Barrymore walked all the way across the stage and said, ‘You’re the new one, aren’t you. We’re glad to have you with us.’ […] Later some of the other members of the cast said it was phenomenal – some of them had been in the show six months before she spoke to them.” This collection underscores the growing focus on Hollywood and motion pictures. The Kalmars moved from New York to Beverly Hills for the songwriter’s work and Kalmar Jr. moved between the two coasts to take advantage of opportunities on the stage and in film. This is also evident in letters from friends and associates in the acting world. A letter to Kalmar Jr. from James Lister foreshadows his career as a prominent Hollywood casting director. He wrote on September 1, 1954 of his decision to leave New York with “Liam,” whom he just signed to Universal Pictures: “We both feel that we’ve had New York, and, at the moment, there seems to be more gold on the other side of the country…as well as trees.” The Kalmars were also close friends of Random House president Bennett Cerf. A typed letter signed (TLS) in the collection dated November 7, 1946 recalls a fun evening: “Phyllis and I counted our evening with you and Jessie among the happiest we spent all year. I hope we can do a repeat performance at a very early date.” A few years after Kalmar’s death, Peggy wrote in a letter to her mother about visiting Cerf at his office and his efforts to help her with a job in magazine publishing. The letters are in very good condition, and most are accompanied by their original mailing envelope. Item #70604

Price: $1,750.00

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