The 1930s were the start of the “golden age” of Hollywood films. Many film actors of this era began their careers in theatre, and some continued to perform on Broadway and on stages across the country, even as “moving pictures” were becoming more popular. At the same time, successful plays were frequently being turned into films.
Here are some notable pieces of movie history found in our Buffalo Theater Program Collection…Rosalind Russell, star of His Girl Friday (1940) and a leading lady of many films of the 1930s through the 1960s, actually lived in Buffalo briefly at the start of her career. She was a member of the local Teck Theatre Players during the 1933-1934 season, and played starring roles in many productions.
The Women, a 1939 movie comedy starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, and Paulette Goddard, was originally a popular play.
In 1937, Buffalo theatergoers could catch the stage production of The Women at the Erlanger Theatre.
Not surprisingly, one of the biggest film stars of all time can also be found in theater programs. One of Katharine Hepburn’s biggest hits was The Philadelphia Story, a 1940 romantic comedy.The movie was based on a screenplay by Phillip Barry, who wrote the play specifically for Katharine Hepburn. Hepburn purchased the motion picture rights, and the film opened in December 1940. The play had been staged in Buffalo just two months prior, starring Hepburn and Joseph Cotten.
Another Philip Barry play, Without Love, was made into a 1945 romantic comedy film starring Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and another local connection–Lucille Ball. A few years earlier, Buffalo audiences saw Hepburn in the 1942 stage production at the Erlanger Theatre.
The Buffalo Theatre Program Collection also includes a handful of programs from films that played at our early “movie palaces.” Here are two that feature, once again, famous Hollywood stars…