The grandson of a Forty-Niner in the Gold Fields of the Feather River who later became the first medical doctor in the village
of Riverside, Newcomb Condee was born in that village on June 26, 1898. He was seriously stage-struck from an early age.
At the age of twelve, he sat in the upper balcony at the Mason Opera House in downtown L.A. watching a production of Ben-Hur,
complete with an onstage chariot race (on a treadmill), and thinking he had died and gone to heaven. He got to know his future
wife Grace Lawrence when he cast her as his wife in the Inglewood High School production of The Mastermind, a mildly-risqué
Broadway vehicle that later became an early "talkie" starring Lionel Barrymore. Grace hailed from Park City, Utah, where
her earliest memories was of the great stage actress Maud Adams returning home to Salt Lake City to play Peter Pan, the part
James Barrie wrote for her in London; Grace's parents left her behind and she howled like a banshee. Her father, a Swedish-born
silver miner and anarchist union organizer, opened a boarding house and the first silent movie theater in Inglewood, where
Grace provided accompaniment on piano. Her first date with her future husband involved a Pacific Electric trolley ride Downtown
to see the great English thespian Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson as Hamlet – front-row seats, for which Newcomb paid fifty
cents each. Los Angeles was the biggest theater center west of Broadway in those days, and the place where the motion picture
industry found many of its early stars, among them Mary Pickford and a fine Shakespearean actor turned cowboy star, William
S. Hart. Newcomb might have stuck with the theater himself, but when his father's chicken farm went bust his High School Principal
urged him to attend a "poor boy's school," Stanford University, which in those days had no tuition, only a fee of $23 a quarter.
Finishing his B.A. and J.D. in five years, Newcomb rushed back south to marry his high school sweetheart and hang up a shingle
in his hometown, but continued to see all the theater Los Angeles had to offer. They were Mark Taper Forum subscribers from
its first season, and saw all the big touring shows – from the D'Oyly Carte Light Opera to Peter Brooks' production of Midsummer
Nights' Dream – and traveled abroad to Stratford-Upon-Avon several times to see the Royal Shakespeare Company in its home
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