Charles Coburn papers

Charles Coburn papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Manuscripts
Creator: Coburn, Charles
Creator: Rosen, Victor
Title: Charles Coburn papers
Dates: 1892-1959
Quantity: 100.0 Linear feet (102 document boxes, 1 half box, 3 cartons, 30 oversized boxes, 3 slide boxes, 1 flat box, 4 custom program boxes, 3 oversize folder A, 3 oversize folder B, 4 unboxed artifacts)
Abstract:The collection consists of the papers of Charles Coburn from 1892-1959. The collection includes scrapbooks, scripts, photographs, and interviews. The scrapbooks contain mainly newspaper and magazine clippings dealing with Coburn's film, theater, and television career; his involvement in the Mohawk Drama Festival (1935-1940); and scrapbooks of a more professional nature. The collection includes stage, radio, film, and television scripts and stage and screen photographs of productions in which he appeared. The papers also include Coburn's collection of celebrity photographs, albums containing photographs (1937-1952) of Coburn portraying characters in various productions during his years in Hollywood; typed transcripts of interviews of Coburn by Victor Rosen from November 1955 - April 1956; and printed matter relating to the Coburn Players (1909-1918) who presented classic stage productions at American universities and colleges.
Coll. Number: ms1126

Biographical/Historical Note

Charles Douville Coburn (1877-1961) was born in Macon, GA and went on to become a prominent stage and screen actor, manager, director, and producer.

Coburn grew up in Savannah and began working in the performing arts by doing miscellaneous jobs in the Savannah Theatre, which he managed by the time he was 17. His first role was in William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's opera "The Mikado". When he was 19, he moved from Georgia to New York, and gained his first role in a traveling production of "Quo Vadi s".

Coburn acted in several traveling companies. By 1904, Coburn played the lead role of "The Christian". He founded the Coburn Shakespearean Players in 1905. In 1906 he married Ivah Wills (ca. 1882–1937), American actress and producer. They went on to produce several Broadway and off-Broadway plays. Coburn founded the Mohawk Drama Festival in 1935 at Union College in Schenectady, New York. The festival was one of the first cooperative ventures of university and professional theater.

After the death of his wife, Coburn moved to Hollywood, California to pursue a film career. He acted in over 44 films, including Idiot's Delight (1939), Made for Each Other (1939), The Devil and Miss Jones (1941), King's Row (1942), In This Our Life (1942), Heaven Can Wait (1943), Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953)and Around the World in 80 Days (1956). He won an Academy Award for his role in The More the Merrier (1943). He was also nominated for The Devil and Miss Jones(1941) and The Green Years(1946).

In the 1940s, Coburn began acting less in order to return to the stage, as well as working for television and radio. He also wrote an article on theater for a book titled Stories of Old Savannah. He remarried in 1951to Winifred Natzka. He died of a heart attack at the age of 81.


Arranged by record type into 12 series (several of which contain further subseries often divided by stage, film, and television):

Series 1. Scrapbooks Series 2. Scripts Series 3. Music to Stage Productions Series 4. Interviews [of Coburn] with Victor Rosen Series 5. Photograophs Series 6. Coburn Players Series 7. Theater Miscellany Series 8. Theater Programs Series 9. Production of Yellow Jacket Series 10. Coburn in Hollywood Series 11. Artifacts Series 12. Oversized certificates, honors, and art

Index Terms

Coburn Players.
Mohawk Drama Festival (Schenectady, N.Y.).