The First Oscar Hammerstein and New York’s Golden Age of Theater and Music


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About the Book

Oscar Hammerstein I came to New York in the 1860s, a Prussian runaway with $1.50 in his pocket, and found work at a cigar factory. A decade later he was publishing the nation’s leading tobacco trade journal and held dozens of patents for cigar-rolling machinery. He made a fortune and turned his efforts to theater. He built eight of them, including four around Longacre Square—later Times Square—which became a thriving theater district. A daring impresario, he was involved at all levels, from booking to composition to stagecraft. Throughout the Gay Nineties and early 20th century, he billed the world’s top actors, prima donnas and vaudeville acts. Then, as now, show business was speculation and high adventure, with rivalries fought in the headlines. Always a storm center, Hammerstein played a skillful chess game with both partners and performers while staging first-class shows for capacity crowds. This biography—from an unfinished manuscript by the son of one of his stage managers—recounts the heyday of his bold productions, his often turbulent relationships with associates, and the birth of Broadway.

About the Author(s)

The late sociologist Adolph S. Tomars, PhD, was a professor at City University of New York for 41 years. In 1959, he received a Guggenheim award to pursue the history of opera, which began decades of research, bringing together his family history and great love of music.

Bibliographic Details

Adolph S. Tomars

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9615-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3913-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments by Adrea Tomars Nairne viii
Preface by Adolph S. Tomars 1
Editor’s Note by Adrea Tomars Nairne 3
1. Mr. Show Business 7
2. The Grand Alliance 25
3. The Prisoner in the Gilsey House 35
4. Glorifying the Human Form 49
5. Gala Performance—Unscheduled 65
6. Lawmen, Showmen and Shysters 78
7. Hammerstein’s Folly 94
8. Olympian Splendor 107
9. The Great Guilbert 120
10. The War of the Music Halls 142
11. “Stop Hammerstein!” 147
12. Counterattack—Thrust and Parry 157
13. Mechanization of the Living Picture 171
14. Broadway Hits and Misses 175
15. The Great Fregoli 181
Epilogue 202
Chapter Notes 203
Index 205