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Guide to the Dan Totheroh papers, 1925-1975
BANC MSS 76/14 c  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Dan Totheroh papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1925-1975
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 76/14 c
    Creator: Totheroh, Dan
    Extent: Number of containers: 2 boxes, 3 cartons, 17 v., 1 package and 1 oversize folder
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Abstract: Letters written to him; copies and drafts of a few by him; mss. of some of his plays and other writings; biographical information; programs, publicity material and announcements for plays; contracts; copyrights; royalty statements: scrapbooks; clippings, etc.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Dan Totheroh papers, BANC MSS 76/14 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Material Cataloged Separately

    • Photographs transferred to the Bancroft Pictorial Collections
      Identifier/Call Number: (BANC PIC 1976.053--PIC and BANC PIC 1977.031)


    Dan Totheroh -actor, playwright, director and novelist -was intimately connected with the theater during his entire lifetime. Born in Oakland in 1894, he wrote his first play in high school and went from there directly onto the professional stage, acting with Nance O'Neil in stock at the San Francisco Alcazar Theatre. He also began writing vaudeville sketches, toured the Pantages and Orpheum vaudeville circuits and eventually made his way to New York. After service in World War I, he returned to the Bay Area, devoted himself to the little theater movement and also took part in productions at the Greek Theatre on the University of California campus.
    In 1922 his play Wild Birds, having won a prize competition sponsored by the University, was performed at Wheeler Hall on campus under the direction of Irving Pichel. After a successful run, the production was moved to San Francisco and then to New York, where it met great critical acclaim, and was chosen as one of the ten best plays of the year in 1925. In succeeding years he wrote steadily, producing many plays, several novels, including Deep Valley and Wild Orchard, and stories for children.
    Of his twenty plays, six were produced on Broadway - Wild Birds, Live Life Again, Distant Drums, Moor Born, Mother Lode and Searching for the Sun. Invited to Hollywood to try his hand at script writing, he had a successful career as a scenario writer also, with several films to his credit, including "The Devil and Daniel Webster" and "The Count of Monte Cristo."
    Dividing his time between New York and California, he maintained his interest in the little theater movement and was associated with the Ramona Pageant, the Pilgrimage Play and other southern California festivals, and, in the northern part of the state, with the mountain plays staged on Mount Tamalpais, the Cove Players at Tiburon, and the Wharf Theatre at Monterey. Professionally active to the end, Mr. Totheroh died in December 1976.

    Scope and Content

    He gave this collection of papers to The Bancroft Library in July 1975. It includes correspondence; MSS of some of his plays and other writings; biographical information; programs, publicity material and announcements for plays; contracts; copyrights; royalty statements; scrapbooks and clippings. Mr. Totheroh did not systematically save his papers and gave away a great deal during his lifetime, so the collection is an incomplete documentation of his long, productive career.
    The papers are described in greater detail in the Key to Arrangement which follows. Most of the photographs have been removed from the collection.