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Michael Kearns Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Michael Kearns papers
    Dates: 1974-2007
    Bulk Dates: 1990-2000
    Collection number: Coll2008-009
    Creator: Kearns, Michael, 1950-
    Collection Size: 3 archive cartons, 4 archive half-cartons, 1 records box, 2 oversize boxes, 1 shoebox. 5.3 linear feet.
    Repository: ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.
    Los Angeles, California 90007
    Abstract: Clippings, programs, flyers, posters, and VHS videotapes, of the works, theatrical performances, and appearances of Michael Kearns; a parent, playwright, producer, director, actor, author, and activist, who is openly gay and HIV-positive.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

    Publication Rights

    Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives as the physical owner. Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in the materials. Note that ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials directly from the copyright holder(s).

    Preferred Citation

    Box #, Folder #, Michael Kearns Papers, Coll2008-009, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Michael Kearns, date unknown.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Michael C. Oliveira, with assistance from Sócrates Silva, May 3, 2008.
    Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.


    Michael Kearns was born in St. Louis, Missouri, 1950. He attended the Goodman Theater School in Chicago before making his way to Los Angeles in the early 1970s where he has acted on the stage, in television, and in motion pictures. Since the 1980s he has grown into the profession as director, producer, acting teacher, playwright, and author. Hollywood’s first openly gay actor, Kearns has been involved in various theater productions throughout Los Angeles addressing HIV/AIDS while also appearing in mainstream television. In addition to more than a dozen produced plays and solo pieces including; The Truth Is Bad Enough (1983), Intimacies (1989), More Intimacies (1990), Rock (1992), Attachments (1996), and Tell-Tale Kisses (1998) his writings have appeared in a wide variety of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly and the Advocate. He is the author of three theater books, published by Heinemann: T-Cells & Sympathy (nominated for a Lambda Literary Award), Acting = Life (also Lammy nominated), and Getting Your Solo Act Together. He received the 2002 Playwright’s Arena Award for Outstanding Contribution to Los Angeles Theater acknowledging three decades of his work as an actor, writer, producer, director, teacher, and fundraiser. In addition to his artistic contributions Kearns has been honored for his philanthropic endeavors by numerous organizations. Among his philanthropic accomplishments is the creation of Southland Theater Artists Goodwill Event (STAGE), which since 1984 has raised millions of dollars for HIV/AIDS services and charities throughout Southern California. Kearns lives in Los Angeles with his daughter Tia.
    Sócrates Silva

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Michael Kearns collection documents his theatrical and charitable contributions to the community from the early 1970s. He organized and produced various benefits and awareness raising events for political, HIV/AIDS, and community organizations including an annual event in commemoration of World AIDS day.
    Primarily the collection consists of clippings, flyers, programs, and VHS videotape cassettes of interviews and performances, along with some performance still photographs and scripts from his theatrical works as a playwright, director, and actor.


    The collection is arranged into five series, Theater; Emcee, Model, and Speaker; Writings; Awards, Commendations, and Honors; and Biographical. The Theater Series and the Writings Series are divided into subseries. The Theater Series includes the subseries: Playwright, Director, Actor, and Producer and the Writing Series includes the subseries: Author, Poet and Journalist, and Columnist. Each of these series and subseries are arranged alphabetically by the title or name of the performance, publication, or organization. With the following exceptions, readings by Kearns at ONE, Spoken Interludes and the West Hollywood Book Fair were placed at the end of the Actor subseries; and the folders of Editorials and Letters to the Editor along with articles about Family were placed at the end of the Journalist, Columnist subseries.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    AIDS activists--California--Los Angeles
    AIDS (Disease)--Dramas
    Gay actors
    Gay dramatists
    Gay men's writings
    Gay theater
    Homosexuality and theater
    One-act plays