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Larsen (Milt) variety theater collection
PA Mss 108  
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Collection Overview
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This collection consists of materials amassed during the later half of the 20th century by Milt Larsen, founder of the Academy of Magical Arts at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California, and the Society for the Preservation of Variety Arts. The collection, vast in breadth of format and coverage, documents the history of the variety arts in the United States from the vaudeville era onwards.
Writer, comedian, lyricist, magician and entrepeneur Milt Larsen was born in Pasadena California (1931) to William W. Larsen Sr. and Giselle Larsen, both performing magicians and publishers of Genii, the Conjuror's Magazine. Larsen wrote for the audience participation shows Truth or Consequences (1956-1977) and Malibu U (1967). As a lyricist, Larsen collaborated with Richard Sherman in the satirical albums Smash Flops and Banned Barbershop Ballads. Larsen also collaborated with Sherman on the comedy musical Pazzazz! In 1956 Larsen produced the still running magic review "It's Magic!" which has run annually since that year. In 1963 Larsen founded the Magic Castle in Hollywood (1963). A club for magicians, the Magic Castle is home to the Academy of Magical Arts. In addition to the Magic Castle, Larsen founded the Mayfair Music Hall (1973-1980) and the Variety Arts Theatre in Los Angeles (1977-1990). Larsen served as a consultant and actor in Hollywood films, and authored joke books and books on magic. In 2007 Milt and his late brother, Bill, received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Larsen, a theater historian, founded the Society for the Preservation of the Variety Arts (1975-1990), having gathered a collection of materials from the early days of variety theater and vaudeville, including scrapbooks, scripts, joke books and photographs. The collection, especially rich in materials related to Eddie Cantor, Ed Wynn, and Earl Carroll, now forms the Milt Larsen Variety Theater Collection at the library of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
162.78 linear feet (58 document boxes, 7 half-size document boxes, 37 flat boxes, 25 flat oversize boxes, 11 cartons, 220 audiotape reels, 337 videocassettes, 3 film reels)
Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.
The collection is open for research, with the exception of Series 7. SPVA files (Box 1-6). Many of the materials in this collection are brittle and will require special handing.