Jay Riley papers, 1959-1988

Finding aid prepared by Jenifer Becker with assistance from Julie Graham, August 2015; machine-readable finding aid created by Caroline Cubé.
UCLA Library Special Collections
Room A1713, Charles E. Young Research Library
Box 951575
Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1575
(310) 825-4988
spec-coll@library.ucla.edu
Finding aid last modified 23 March 2016.


Title: Jay Riley papers
Collection number: 2277
Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 3.0 linear ft. (4 boxes, 1 carton and 1 flat box)
Date: 1959-1988, bulk 1970s-1980s
Abstract: Jay Riley was an African American actor who started his career in 1932. He appeared in Broadway productions and also found roles in motion pictures and television. The collection consists of script material, photographs and a small amount of biographical information, press clippings, ephemera, books, and audiovisual materials related to Riley’s career.
Language of Materials: English
Physical Location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

Restrictions on Access

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

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

COLLECTION CONTAINS AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS: Audiovisual materials in this collection will require assessment and possible digitization for safe access. To review these audiovisual materials you must notify the reference desk in advance of your visit.

Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library 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], Jay Riley Papers (Collection 2277). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

Provenance/Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mercedes Riley; 2013.

Biography/History

James Merriman Riley, professionally known as Jay Flash Riley, Jay Riley, and Joe Riley, was born June 24, 1916 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He got his start acting in 1932 with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Theater project. His first appeared on Broadway in the role of Jack Stanton in Orson Welles's production of Native Son (1941). Other Broadway appearances include Carmen Jones (1943), On the Town (1944), Finian's Rainbow (1947), The Wiz (1975), and Bubbling Brown Sugar (1976). Riley spent time in Europe (ca. mid-1960s and 1970s) and appeared in and produced a stage production of Trumpets of Our Lord. Additionally, he appeared in films such as Cleopatra and The She Beast, and did voice-overs dubbing 200-plus films. Riley's television credits include appearances on Frank's Place, Good Times, Sanford and Son, Taxi, and The White Shadow. In 1979, Riley won the Los Angeles Weekly's Lawree Award for Outstanding Performance of the Year for his role in Bubbling Brown Sugar. In 1988, shortly before his death, he appeared in the MGM film Memories of Me. He died September 20, 1988 in Los Angeles, California.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of materials related to the career of African American actor Jay Riley. The majority of the materials are script materials and photographs. Additionally included are a small amount of biographical information, press clippings, ephemera, books, and audiovisual materials. Script materials represent projects for which Riley may have been involved in some capacity, such as Bubbling Brown Sugar, Trumpets of Our Lord, and The Wiz. The photographs are professional and/or personal in nature; professional photographs are mostly headshots of Riley. Notably absent from the collection are items representing his television work and his involvement with foreign-made films, such as Cleopatra and The She Beast.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged into the following series:
  • Series 1. Personal and Biographical Materials
  • Series 2. Correspondence
  • Series 3. Projects
  • Series 4. Photographs
  • Series 5. Books and Audiovisual Materials

UCLA Catalog Record ID

UCLA Catalog Record ID: 7685605 

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Riley, Jay -- Archives
African American actors -- Archives

Container List

 

Personal and Biographical Material. undated, 1988.

Scope and Content

The series consists of birth and death records, resumes, and documents related to Riley’s death. There is no specific arrangement to the series.
Box 1, Folder 1

Birth and death certificates. undated.

Box 1, Folder 3

Death sympathy cards. ca. 1988.

Box 1, Folders 4

Funeral-related documents. ca. 1988.

Scope and Content

This file includes a memorial book, prayer certificate, and inurement program.
Box 1, Folder 5

Obituary notices. 1988.

Box 1, Folder 2

Resumes. undated.

Box 1, Folder 6

Address books (2 items). undated.

Box 1, Folder 7

Business cards and blank stationary. undated.

 

Correspondence. undated, 1966, 1978-1988.

Scope and Content

The Correspondence series consists of letters to and from Riley. The series is arranged into either personal or career related letters. Items are arranged in loose chronological order within the folders.
Box 1, Folder 9

Letters to and from Riley (appear career related). undated, 1978-1988.

Scope and Content

With a letter from Jerome Robbins.
Box 1, Folder 8

Letters to and from Riley (appear personal). undate, 1966, 1979-1988.

Scope and Content

With a card from Langston Hughes.
 

Projects. ca.1959-ca.1980s.

Scope and Content

The bulk of the Projects series consists of script materials for projects in which Riley may have been involved in some capacity. Additionally there is a small amount of press clippings (original and photocopies), photographs, and ephemera. Materials represent projects such as Bubbling Brown Sugar, Trumpets of Our Lord, and The Wiz, among others. The series is arranged alphabetically by project title.
Box 1, Folder 10

Contracts. 1983, 1987.

Box 1, Folder 11

Residuals and handwritten notes about wages. ca. 1980s.

Box 1, Folder 12

Riley jottings. undated .

Box 7, Folder 1

Sketches. undated.

Box 3, Folder 5

Untitled project script pages. undated.

Box 2, Folder 2

Beauty and the Beast: Promises of Someday house draft script. 1987 December 15.

Box 2, Folder 3

Blacks: A Clown Show (The) published script (2 copies). 1960.

Box 7, Folder 2

Black Experience (The) posters. 1972.

Box 2, Folder 4-10, Box 7, Folder 3

Bubbling Brown Sugar script material, photographs, press clippings, and ephemera (7 folders). undated, mid-1970s and mid-1980s .

Box 2, Folder 11

Checking Out script. undated.

Box 3, Folder 13

Dark of the Moon handbill. undated.

Box 2, Folder 12

Dirty Dancing: Just One Look pilot script. 1988.

Box 2, Folder 13

Gathering of Old Men (A) production notes. undated.

Box 3, Folder 1

Flash and Sunda in Vaudeville press clippings (photocopies). ca. 1939-ca. 1940.

Box 3, Folder 2

Macbeth program and script pages. [ca. 1977].

Box 3, Folder 3

Memories of Me press clippings. undated .

Box 3, Folder 4

Native Son film press kit (photocopy) and ticket. 1986 December.

Box 3, Folder 6

No Holds Barred script. 1988 March 2.

Box 3, Folder 7

On The Town photocopied page of photographs (possibly from a printed program). undated .

Box 3, Folder 8

Pantomime (A) synopsis. undated.

Scope and Content

With published sheet music for Send in the Clowns and holographic notes.
Box 3, Folder 9

Shakespeare in Harlem clipping of images. 1959.

Box 3, Folder 10

Sing a New Song narration script pages. undated.

Box 3, Folder 11

Skeeters Wings script. 1988 April.

Box 3, Folders 12-13

Suicide in B Flat (A Mysterious Overture) script. ca. 1979.

Scope and Content

Script annotated. With photographs, clipping, and award announcement.
Box 3 , Folder 14

Superior Court script pages. undated.

Box 4, Folder 14

There's a Boat Dat's Leavin' Soon for New York published sheet music (from Porgy and Bess). © 1935.

Box 3, Folders 15-16, Bin 7, Folder 4

Trombones script, press clipping, costume design, scene sketches, and ephemera (3 folders). undated.

Box 5, Folder 2

Trumpets of the Lord photographs, programs, and press. ca. mid-1960s.

Box 3, Folder 17

Turning of Dugmore Boetie (The) script. undated.

Box 4, Folder 12

Wiz (The) blocking script. 1975 September.

Box 3, Folder 18

[Working] script. undated.

Scope and Content

Appears to be for production of Working. With photocopy of handwritten vocal score titled All the Live long Day.
Box 4, Folder 13

Year in the Life (A) script. 1988 February .

 

Photographs and Ephemera. undated.

Scope and Content

The series consists of photographs and ephemera that are professional and/or personal in nature and not identified with known projects. The majority of the professional photographs are headshots of Riley. The majority of photographs are not identified. There is no specific arrangement to the series.
Box 4, Folder 11

Photograph album - appears to be family and friends. undated.

Box 4, Folders 1-4

Photograph album - appears to be family and friends (4 envelopes). undated.

General note

Photographs found loose in magnetic self-adhesive photoalbum. Original order could not be determined; photographs removed from album for preservation purposes.
Box 4, Folders 5-10, Box 2, Folder 1

Photographs - appears to be family and friends (6 envelopes and 1 folder). undated.

Box 5, Folder 1, Box 1, Folder 13-14, Box 7, Folder 1

Photographs - mostly headshots (4 folders). undated.

Box 1, Folder 15

Photographs - mostly with others and possibly related to projects. undated.

 

Books and Audiovisual Materials. undated.

Scope and Content

The series consists of books collected by Riley, and a small number of audiocassettes and videotapes. Many of the books relate to African Americans in the entertainment industry. There is no specific arrangement to the series. Audiovisual materials in this series are restricted and require advance notice for use.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

SERIES CONTAINS AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS: Audiovisual materials in this collection will require assessment and possible digitization for safe access. To review these audiovisual materials you must notify the reference desk in advance of your visit.
Box 6, Folders 8-14

Audiovisual materials (3 audiocassettes, 3 VHS, and 1 betamax). undated.

Scope and Content

RESTRICTED ACCESS: Use of audiovisual material requires production of listening and viewing copies.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Audiovisual materials will require assessment and possible digitization for safe access. To review these audiovisual materials you must notify the reference desk in advance of your visit.
Box 6, Folders 1-7

Books (7 items). undated.

Scope and Content

Book titles: Black Hollywood: The Negro in Motion Pictures; Black Magic: A Pictorial History of Black Entertainers in America; Black Scenes; The Cotton Club; The New York Times Gershwin Years in Song; Negro Playwrights in the American Theatre, 1925-1959; and A Portrait of the Theatre.