Oral Histories

Interview of Gilmor Brown

Actor, director, and co-founder of the Pasadena Playhouse.
Pasadena Playhouse Pioneer
Pasadena Playhouse Oral History Series
Biographical Note:
Actor, director, and co-founder of the Pasadena Playhouse.
Lane, Charles
Brown, Gilmor, $d 1886-1960
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
2.5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series documents the founding and early history of the Pasadena Playhouse.
Early childhood on North Dakota tree-claim farm; move to Denver; school experiences; first contact with theater in Denver; father's fondness for theater; Minnie Maddern Fiske and George Arliss in Becky Sharp; establishing neighborhood theater in cellar; writing musical comedy at age twelve; play productions at St. Mark's in the Mountains; Florence J. Adams; attending drama school in Minneapolis; studying at Mrs. Adams's studio in Chicago; first professional acting experience with Ben Greet Company, Chicago; Shakespeare productions; Sybil Thorndike; touring Canada; Elizabeth Patterson; repertory companies; Mae Stewart; black-market scripts; promoting Shakespeare festivals in small towns in Kansas; brief stay in New York; organizing road company; Archie "Virginia" Lykins; "Big Bill" Bittner; operating theater school in Hutchinson, Kansas; diamond dye scenery; touring Utah; meeting Mrs. J. B. Durand in Hutchinson; move to Pasadena, 1916; establishing stock company in old Savoy Theatre; promotion of Community Play-house; early supporters: C. Churchill Clarke, Alberta Jones, Sybil Eliza Jones, Sam and Dorothy Hinds, William Reis, Jr., George Reis, Evalina C. and George Ellery Hale; first production, series of one-acts, November 20-23, 1917; early financial problems; help from Aline Barnsdall; first teaching at Summer Art Colony, 1922; Frayne Williams, Lenore Shanewise, Andy Campbell, Cy Kendall; Brown as sole director and primary actor in early days; brother, Frank Brown, business manager and publicity agent; family, including parents, help with scenery, box office, etc.; Community Playhouse moves to Pasadena Playhouse, 1925.