Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Harry Bartron papers
Bulk Dates: Bulk
Collection number: Coll2008-054
Collection Size: 6 archive cartons + 3 archive
half-cartons + 1 clamshell box album + 1 framed print. 3
ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.
Los Angeles, California 90007
Abstract: Writings, manuscripts, publications and
photographs documenting the life of pantomime artist and poet Harry Bartron
from 1927 to 2006. The bulk of the collection dates from 1978 to 2005 and
consists of poetry exploring in particular Bartron's Roman Catholic faith and
his homosexuality. Additional materials include liturgical materials, written
for the Los Angeles chapter of Dignity/USA; autobiographical reminiscences;
correspondence; and materials documenting Bartron's daily activities and his
career as a pantomimist and his work as an advocate for GLBT seniors. The
photographs include images of Bartron in costume and in performance, as well as
photographs and snapshots of family and friends.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection:
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access
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).
Harry Bartron papers, Coll2008-054, ONE National Gay and Lesbian
Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Gift of Harry Bartron, in several transactions, between 2003 and
Collection processed by Lilly Insalata,
September 24, 2008.
Processing this collection has been funded
by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records
Harry Ollen Bartron was born in Van Etten, New York, on December 26,
1917, the fifth and youngest child of Fernando and Margaret (Cranmer) Bartron.
Shortly after Bartron's birth, his mother divorced his physically abusive
father, and married a tenant farmer named Frank Whitmore, and Harry lived his
childhood on several farms in the neighborhood of Troy, Pennsylvania. Bartron's
mother left Whitmore when she discovered he had never divorced his first wife,
and Bartron found himself on his own at age 13. He spent his high school years
boarding with relatives and private families in Elmira, New York. Raised a
Baptist, he joined the fundamentalist Pilgrim Holiness Church in his late
teens, and completed seminary work at the Allentown Bible School in Allentown,
Pennsylvania, where he met Inez Lee Fotner, whom he married. He joined the Navy
in 1943 and converted to Roman Catholicism in boot camp; he was expelled from
the Navy later that year with an "Undesirable Discharge" for making sexual
advances to another sailor. He returned to his wife and son Stephen, born
during his deployment, and moved Cincinnati, where he obtained work with a
Catholic goods shop, joined the Third Order of St. Francis, and took classes at
Xavier University. Bartron and his wife had two more children, Elizabeth (born
1945) and Carol (born 1947). In 1947, Bartron moved to Chicago to attend Loyola
University. He also became very active in the Uptown Players of Chicago, both
as an actor and assistant to the director; he also took private lessons in
performance. His wife left him in 1948; she later married Paul Marcus Marker
(1925-1997), with whom she had several children, and died in 1986. Now single,
Bartron developed a one-man show, first as a monologist, then as a mime, and
for the next 18 years performed over 4,200 times throughout the United States,
Canada, the British Isles, and Mexico. With the success of Marcel Marceau,
Bartron was billed as "the American Pantomimist".
Bartron retired from full-time performance in 1966, and returned to
school, earning a BA from Mansfield State College, in Pennsylvania, in 1970. He
moved to Los Angeles later that year, and in 1972 received an MA in Speech from
UCLA and a Community College Instructor Credential in Language Arts and
Literature. He played small roles in films such as Cutting Loose (1980), Let's
Do It! (1982), and The Seventh Sign (1988) and in television shows such as
Archie Bunker's Place (1981) and Mysterious Two (1982); he also appeared in
Bartron's later years were devoted to writing, in particular poetry. His
first volume of poetry, Contemporary Words in Sound, was published while he was
still a student at Mansfield State University. The poems address a wide variety
of subjects, but the majority explore his Roman Catholic faith and his
sexuality. His accomplishments as a poet were recognized by induction into the
International Poetry Hall of Fame in October 1996. Bartron also published a
novel, Drummer Boy, on drummer boys in the American Civil War, published in
2004. He was also active in the Roman Catholic Church, writing liturgical
material for the Los Angeles chapter of Dignity/USA, joining the Knights of
Columbus in 2001, and constantly exploring the position of Catholic homosexuals
through speeches, essays, and support groups. He also became involved with the
LA Gay & Lesbian Center, in particular the Oral History Project; advocated
for housing for GLBT seniors; and continued to perform as a member of a senior
theater group. He died in Los Angeles on July 18, 2007, at the age of 89.
Source: Harry Bartron Papers, Coll2008-054, ONE National Gay &
Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Scope and Content of Collection
This collection contains writings, manuscripts, publications and
photographs documenting the life of Harry Bartron. The bulk of the collection
consists of poetry, both printed and manuscript, exploring in particular
Bartron's Roman Catholic faith and his homosexuality; Bartron's erotic poetry
was published under the pseudonym "Henri de Boise". Additional writings include
liturgical materials, written for the Los Angeles chapter of Dignity/USA, and
autobiographical reminiscences in the form of emails to his daughter and
transcripts of interviews given as part of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center's
Oral History Project. Personal papers document Bartron's daily activities,
career as a pantomimist and in film and television, his involvement with the
Roman Catholic Church and Dignity/USA, his activities as an advocate for GLBT
seniors, and his various social activities. The photographs include images of
Bartron in costume and in performance, as well as photographs and snapshots of
family and friends.
This collection is arranged in 4 series: (1) Writings, (2) Personal, (3)
Photographs and (4) Graphics.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this
collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Catholic gays--United States
Gay men's writings
Poets, American--20th century