Finding Aid of the Jerome Robinson Theatrical Photographs collection

Processed by Manuscripts Division staff
© 2004
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Finding Aid of the Jerome Robinson Theatrical Photographs Collection

UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections

Manuscripts Division



Los Angeles, CA
Processed by:
Manuscripts Division staff
Encoded by:
ByteManagers using OAC finding aid conversion service specifications
Encoding supervision and revision by:
Caroline Cubé
Edited by:
Josh Fiala, August 2004
© 2004 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Jerome Robinson Theatrical Photographs Collection,
Date (inclusive): ca. 1930-1955
Collection number: 1203
Creator: Robinson, Jerome
Extent: 27 boxes (13.5 linear ft.) 2 cartons (2 linear ft.) 2 oversize boxes
Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
Abstract: Jerome Robinson (1910-1976) was the official photographer for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in New York (1930-31), published a book titled, The complete plays of Gilbert and Sullivan (1938), joined the staff of Theater arts and Stage magazines, and did theater features for Life magazine. He moved to Hollywood, California (1943) and worked as the official photographer for the Pasadena Playhouse (1943-58). He was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1950 and declared an unfriendly witness because he refused to testify. He never worked in a motion picture studio again, although his career in the theater continued until 1958. The collection consists of approximately 10,000 photographs and 20,000 negatives taken by Robinson of theatrical performances and performers in New York, Pasadena, and Los Angeles.
Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Jerome Robinson Theatrical Photographs collection (Collection 1203). Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

Provenance/Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Jerome Robinson, 1977.

Biography

Robinson was born in New York City on February 25, 1910; an uncle gave him a camera as a birthday gift, and he won first prize in the Radio City Music Hall opening photographic contest; official photographer, D'Oyly Carte Opera Company performing Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in New York, 1930-31; Robinson published a book titled, The complete plays of Gilbert and Sullivan (1938); later joined the staff of Theater arts and Stage magazines and even did theater features for Life magazine; decided to move to Hollywood, California, in 1943; official photographer, Pasadena Playhouse, 1943-58; began working in major film studios in 1944; called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1950 and declared an unfriendly witness because he refused to testify; he never worked in a motion picture studio again, although his career in the theater continued until 1958; did free-lance work for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Association, the Biltmore Theatre, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Circle Theatre, the Ivar, and many others; died July 9, 1976.

Biographical Narrative

Jerome Robinson was born in New York City on February 25, 1910, son of Barney and Nettie Robinson. He had one sister, now Beatrice (Mrs. Wilbur) Schreiber, and many aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers of his mother. He attended public schools in New York, and though he read continuously, he never liked school mainly because he was not getting the art training he wanted. At 16 he quit school and found a job as a painters' “devil” in a fabric design company. He did, however, continue art studies at both Art Center and Cooper Union at night. By age 19 he was himself a designer of floral prints and “happi-coats.”
The year before an uncle had given him a camera for a birthday gift, and he entered many contests and won many prizes, among them first prize in the Radio City Music Hall opening photographic contest. Through winning this contest he first met the Schuberts and began photographing in the theatre.
At this time, almost simultaneously with his discovering “fast” film, he was invited to work in the laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the man who invented the film and also the first Strobe unit. This job lasted only a few months, but from it grew his whole photographic career.
He was the first to do available light or actual performance photography in the theatre -- that is, without flash-lights or any other addition to the normal stage lighting. He worked entirely free-lance, but photographed and sold prints of the bulk of what appeared on Broadway for the next ten years.
In 1930-31 the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company came to New York from England and presented twenty-some Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. They became known as the American Company for Gilbert and Sullivan. For almost two years Jerome Robinson was their official photographer. From this association came a book: The Complete Plays of Gilbert and Sullivan.....including 32 photographs.....by Jerome Robinson, published in 1938 (some five years after) by the Garden City Publishing Company.
Also from this association came an introduction to Antoinette Perry who was so impressed with his pictures that she re-introduced him to the Schuberts. Though he photographed all of their plays he refused any limited business association with them because he was by then on the staff of Theatre Arts magazine and Stage Magazine and later did many theatre features for Life Magazine where his frequent partner doing the writing was Alexander King.
From 1941 to 1950 he was married to Mildred Okuneff, sister to one of his aunts by marriage, but this marriage ended in divorce in California.
By 1942 and the war, since he was ineligible for military service because of the asthma he had had since early childhood, he went to work for Bethlehem Shipyard in New York. After only a month or so, he took an examination and won a scholarship to a crash program in Naval Architecture at Johns Hopkins University. He worked in shipbuilding for almost a year in New London, Connecticut, when a severe asthmatic attack ended his job there and sent him back to recuperate in New York.
During the next year he was involved with the United States Government in developing a super-fast film for use in aerial photography.
He tried to return to theatrical photography in 1943, but found that many others were doing his kind of photography by then, so the decision was made to move permanently to Hollywood.
In Hollywood he became official photographer for many of the little theatres while he was trying to have his work seen at the motion picture studios. He also almost immediately through Oliver and Maude Prickett and Gilmore Brown became official photographer for the Pasadena Playhouse (1943 - 1958). He began working in the major film studios in 1944 doing all the still photography for many pictures including The Green Years and The Yearling.
In 1950, because he knew many of “The 10” and others associated with them, he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in Los Angeles, refused (like Lillian Hellman and others) to testify about anyone but himself, and was declared an “unfriendly witness.” He never worked in any motion picture studio again, though his career in the theatre went on until 1958. He did free-lance work for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Association, the Biltmore Theatre, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Circle Theatre, the Ivar and many others.
In 1955, because he had sailed boats since he was 12 years old and had the Johns Hopkins war-time training, he decided to take the Yacht and Ship-Brokers examination for license (which he passed the first time) and open an office in Newport Beach. There in 1957, he met and married Zelda Cartman Seal and became step-father to her three sons. He retired the first time in 1966 when he suffered his first heart attack but later did drafting design for Todd Shipyard in Long Beach for two years and for Decca navigational equipment for another two years..
In 1972, their sons grown, educated and independent, he and his wife moved from Newport Beach to Palos Verdes where, on July 9, 1976, he suffered a fatal heart attack at age 66, exactly like his father.
Zelda Robinson

Scope and Content

Collection consists of approximately 10,000 photographs and 20,000 negatives taken by Jerome Robinson of theatrical performances and performers in New York, Pasadena, and Los Angeles.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the repository's online public access catalog.

Subjects

Robinson, Jerome--Archives.
Photographers--United States--Archival resources.
Stage photography--New York (State)--New York--Archival resources.
Stage photography--California, Southern--Archival resources.

Genres and Forms of Material

Negatives.
Photographs.


Container List

Box 1, Folder 1

Abe Lincoln in Illinois.

Box 1, Folder 2

The American Way.

Box 1, Folder 3

As you like it.

Box 1, Folder 4

Banjo Eyes.

Box 1, Folders 5-6

Between the Devil.

Box 1, Folders 7-9

Boys and Girls.

Box 1, Folder 10

Burlesque.

Box 1, Folder 11

Christmas '65.

Box 2, Folder 1

Devil Under.

Box 2, Folders 2-3

Du Barry was a Lady.

Box 2, Folder 4

Earl Carroll's Vanities.

Box 2, Folder 5

Father Malachy's Miracle.

Box 2, Folder 6

Follies Bergere.

Box 2, Folder 7

French Casino (1937).

Box 2, Folder 8

Great Lady.

Box 2, Folder 9

Green Years.

Box 3, Folder 1

Having Wonderful Time.

Box 3, Folder 2

Higher and Higher.

Box 3, Folder 3

Hooray for Love.

Box 3, Folder 4

I'd Rather be Right.

Box 3, Folder 5

I married an angel.

Box 3, Folder 6

International (Revue).

Box 3, Folder 7

Junior Miss.

Box 3, Folder 8

Keep off the Grass.

Box 3, Folder 9

Knickerbocker Holiday.

Box 4, Folders 1-2

Lady comes across.

Box 4, Folder 3

Landscape.

Box 4, Folder 4

Leave it to me.

Box 4, Folders 5-6

Let's face it.

Box 4, Folder 7

Lorelei.

Box 5, Folders 1-2

Louisiana Purchase.

Box 5, Folder 3

Love on the Dole.

Box 5, Folder 4

Mamba.

Box 5, Folders 5-6

Manna.

Box 5, Folder 7

Martin, Tony, & Jane Savitt.

Box 5, Folder 8

More the Merrier.

Box 5, Folder 9

Native Son.

Box 6, Folder 1

New Faces.

Box 6, Folder 2

Of Mice and Men.

Box 6, Folder 3

On borrowed time.

Box 6, Folder 4

Orchids Preferred.

Box 6, Folders 5-6

Pal Joey.

Box 6, Folders 7-8

Panama Hattie.

Box 6, Folder 9

Paris.

Box 7, Folder 1

Red, Hot & Blue.

Box 7, Folder 2

Riviera.

Box 7, Folder 3

Roberta.

Box 7, Folder 4

The Show's On.

Box 7, Folder 5

Sing out the News.

Box 7, Folder 6

Sketch Book.

Box 7, Folder 7

Sons of Fun.

Box 8, Folder 1

Sons of Fun.

Box 8, Folder 2

Spring is here.

Box 8, Folder 3

Stars in your Eyes.

Box 8, Folder 4

Straw Hat.

Box 8, Folder 5

Talley Method.

Box 8, Folder 6

'Tis of Thee.

Box 8, Folder 7

Too Many Girls.

Box 8, Folder 8

Two Bouquets.

Box 8, Folder 9

Two for the Show.

Box 9, Folder 1

Very warm for May.

Box 9, Folder 2

Virginia.

Box 9, Folder 3

Waltzes.

Box 9, Folder 4

What a Life.

Box 9, Folders 5-7

White Horse Inn.

Box 10, Folder 1

White Horse Inn.

Box 10, Folder 2

You Never Know.

Box 10, Folders 3-4

Ziegfeld Follies.

Box 11, Folder 1

Arden, Robbins, etc.

Box 11, Folder 2

Brice, Hope.

Box 11, Folders 3-6

New Faces 1-4.

Box 11, Folder 7

Nelson, Arden.

Box 12, Folder 1

Merman, Hope.

Box 12, Folder 2

On your toes (Bolger, Mac Veigh)

Box 12, Folder 3

On your toes (Chorus)

Box 12, Folder 4

Monte Wooley.

Box 12, Folder 5

Ziegfeld Follies.

Box 12, Folder 6

Ziegfeld Follies, Chorus Line.

Box 12, Folders 7-8

Ziegfeld Follies, Principals no.1-2.

Box 13, Folder 1

All the Living.

Box 13, Folder 2

American Way.

Box 13, Folder 3

Casa.

Box 13, Folder 4

Cotton Club.

Box 13, Folder 5

French Casino.

Box 13, Folder 6

French (?).

Box 13, Folder 7

Golden Boy (John Garfield).

Box 13, Folder 8

Hellzapoppin.

Box 13, Folder 9

Holiday.

Box 13, Folder 10

Hollywood.

Box 13, Folder 11

House in the country.

Box 13, Folder 12

Landscape.

Box 13, Folder 13

Lewis, Joey; Harper's Magazine Assignment.

Box 13, Folder 14

Murray, Ken.

Box 13, Folder 15

No Time for Comedy.

Box 13, Folder 16

One for the money.

Box 13, Folder 17

Othello.

Box 13, Folder 18

Paradise.

Box 13, Folder 19

Possessed/ Time of Life.

Box 13, Folder 20

Russell, Blane, Pierce, Reed, etc.

Box 13, Folder 21

Stone & Collins.

Box 13, Folder 22

Without Warning.

Box 14, Folder 1

Gilbert & Sullivan; American Company.

Box 14, Folder 2

Cox & Box.

Box 14, Folders 3-4

Gondoliers 1-2.

Box 14, Folders 5-6

Iolanthe 1-2.

Box 15, Folders 1-3

Mikado 1-3.

Box 15, Folders 4-5

Patience 1-2.

Box 15, Folders 6-8

Pinafore 1-3.

Scope and Content Note

Pinafore 2 (folder 7) with Trial by Jury.
Box 16, Folder 1

Pirates of Penzance.

Box 16, Folders 2-4

Princess Ida 1-3.

Box 16, Folder 5

Ruddigore.

Box 16, Folder 6

Trial by Jury.

Box 16, Folders 7-8

Yeoman of the Guard 1-2.

Box 17, Folder 1

New York Miscellaneous. 1937-1941 and n.d.

Box 17, Folder 1

1937.

Box 17, Folder 2

1938.

Box 17, Folder 3

1941.

Box 17, Folders 4-5

n.d.

Box 18, Folder 1

Illustrator's Show.

Box 18, Folders 2-5

Minsky's.

Box 18, Folder 6

Vaudeville.

Box 18, Folder 7

World's Fair.

Box 19, Folders 1-9

Los Angeles Biltmore

Box 19, Folders 1-2

Actors' Lab.

Box 19, Folder 3

April Fool.

Box 19, Folder 4

Philharmonic.

Box 19, Folders 5-9

[No further description available].

Box 19, Folder 10

Hollywood Miscellaneous.

Box 19, Folder 11

Miscellaneous Stills.

Box 20, Folders 1-7

Pasadena Playhouse

Box 20, Folder 1

Country wife, etc.

Box 20, Folder 2

Pal Joey, etc.

Box 20, Folders 3-7

No further description available].

Box 20, Folders 8-14

Greek Theatre.

Box 20, Folder 15

Burlesque. Los Angeles. 1947.

Box 21, Folder 1

Charles Laughton (Galileo).

Box 21, Folders 2-5

Portraits - Hollywood.

Box 21, Folder 6

Mae West.

Box 22, Folder 1

D'oyly Carte.

Box 22, Folder 2

Fields Beyond.

Box 22, Folder 3

Larger than Life.

Box 22, Folder 4

Miscellaneous.

Box 22, Folder 5

New Faces.

Box 22, Folder 6

On Borrowed Time.

Box 22, Folder 7

On your Toes.

Box 22, Folder 8

Puppets.

Box 22, Folder 9

Shoemakers Holiday.

Box 22, Folder 10

Unidentified Rehearsal.

Box 22, Folder 11

Ed Wynn Flash.

Box 22, Folder 12

Ziegfeld Follies of the Air (roughs).

Box 23, Folder 1-2

Anything Goes

Box 23, Folder 1

Greek - unretouched.

Box 23, Folder 2

Publicity Stills, set.

Box 23, Folder 3

Arms and the man.

Box 23, Folders 4-5

Awake and sing.

Box 23, Folder 6

Ballet.

Box 23, Folder 7

Barrie, Lee Scott, Dot, Bob, Gloria Grey.

Box 23, Folder 8

Fez.

Box 23, Folder 9

Great God Brown.

Box 23, Folder 10

Greek, Gloria Lyn, Frances & Walburn.

Box 23, Folder 11

Hopkins.

Box 23, Folders 12-15

Inspector General.

Box 23, Folder 16

Merry Widow.

Box 23, Folder 17

My Los Angeles - Retouched Publicity shots.

Box 23, Folder 18

Pagaent of Montley.

Box 23, Folder 19

Streets of New York.

Box 23, Folders 20-22

Student Prince.

Box 23, Folder 23

Triola, Jenkins.

Box 23, Folder 24

Unidentified.

Box 23, Folders 25-26

Vagabond King

Box 23, Folder 25

Publicity.

Box 23, Folder 26

Set Stills.

Box 23, Folder 27

Volpone.

Box 23, Folder 28

Winterset.

Box 24

Miscellaneous prints.

Physical Description: (12 × 15”)
Boxes 25-30

Negatives.

Box 31

Scrapbooks of photographs ca. 1930s-1940s

Physical Description: 2 volumes.
Box 31

Vol. 1 - photographs of New York City

Box 31

Vol. 2 - Photographs of Jerome Robinson, family and friends, scenes of New York, nude studies