Biography: Melvyn Douglas 1972-1980

A Guide to the Collection of Oral History Interviews at Indiana University Bloomington

Finding aid prepared by the staff of the Center for the Study of History and Memory with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities Division of Preservation and Access, 2000-2002

Creator: Indiana University Center for Documentary Research and Practice
Title: Biography: Melvyn Douglas
Collection No.: ohrc021
Dates: 1972-1980
Quantity:

Quantity: 35 Interviews

(Audio files, transcripts, and collateral materials )
Abstract: The interviews contained in this project revolve around the life of Melvyn Douglas and include information about his biographical history, his family, his theatrical, motion picture, and television acting career, and his efforts during World War II. The interviewees include fellow actors and actresses, the man himself, former employees, and others who came into contact with Melvyn Douglas throughout his life.
Location: Interviews are housed in Franklin Hall, Room 0030A. Contact ohrc@indiana.edu for more information. Copies of interview transcripts are also held by the IU Libraries University Archives. For other locations housing the interviews from this project, please contact the Center for Documentary Research and Practice office.
Language: Materials are in English
Repository: Center for Documentary Research and Practice
Franklin Hall 0030B
601 E. Kirkwood Avenue
Bloomington, Indiana 47405
Business Number: 812-855-2856
ohrc@indiana.edu
URL: https://cdrp.mediaschool.indiana.edu/

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains thirty-five interviews conducted over the course of 8 years. A majority of the interviews range from 30 minutes to 3 hours, with one exception being 86 hours, 15 minutes. Most interviews contain reels and typed transcriptions. Consult individual interview descriptions for additional information.

Restrictions

Usage Restrictions:

The archive of the Center for Documentary Research and Practice at Indiana University is open to the use of researchers. Copies of transcript pages are available only when such copies are permitted by the deed of gift. Scholars must honor any restrictions the interviewee placed on the use of the interview. Since some of our earlier (pre-computer) transcripts do not exist in final form, any editing marks in a transcript (deletions, additions, corrections) are to be quoted as marked. Audio files may not be copied for patrons unless the deed of gift permits it, and a transcript is unavailable for that interview. The same rules of use that apply to a transcript apply to the audio interview. Interviews may not be reproduced in full for any public use, but excerpted quotes may be used as long as researchers fully cite the data in their research, including accession number, interview date, interviewee's and interviewer's name, and page(s).

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[interviewee first name last name] interview, by [interviewer first name last name], [interview date(s)], [call number], [project name], Center for Documentary Research and Practice, Indiana University, Bloomington, [page number(s) or tape number and side if no transcript; if digital audio and no transcript, cite time when quote occurs].

Acquisition Information

Oral history interviews conducted by the Indiana University Center for the Study of History and Memory from 1968 to the present, with particular focus on the history of twentieth-century America and the Midwest.

Collection Inventory

Arthur, Josephine H. , December 30, 1974

No(s): 75-017

Physical Description: 30 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 1 hour 10 minutes; no index

Scope and Content Note: Josephine Arthur, a family friend of Melvyn Douglas, knew the actor for the majority of his life. They met in Chicago and Douglas spent a lot of time with her family during the earlier days of his career. She discusses some of her childhood memories with Melvyn and his family, some of the plays that he acted in in Chicago, his visits to her college, and Douglas's feelings about Judaism.

Indexed Terms:

  • Places:
    • Chicago, Illinois
  • Occupations:
    • actor
  • Subjects:
    • acting
    • Inherit the Wind
    • Judaism
    • Theater
    • theatrical plays
    • Time Out for Ginger
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • Playmongers
  • Family Names:
    • Hahns
    • Hesselberg
  • People:
    • Douglas, George
    • Hightower, Rosalind

Access Status: Open

Arthur, Thomas H. , May, 1974, June, 1974, January, 1975, February, 1975, March, 1975

No(s): 75-004

Physical Description: 72 pages; 2 reels, 3 3/4 ips, 3 hours; no index

Scope and Content Note: Thomas H. Arthur shares his personal impressions of many of the people he interviewed for his biography of Melvyn Douglas. He shares some off-the-record comments given and stories shared by these interviewees, which lend further insight into the personalities and personal lives of Melvyn Douglas and Douglas' wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas. In addition, Mr. Arthur comments on the growing friendship between himself and Melvyn Douglas.

Indexed Terms:

  • Subjects:
    • health problems
    • infidelity
    • Marriage
  • Family Names:
    • Douglas
  • People:
    • Barrett, Edith
    • Bellamy, Ralph
    • Bloomgarden, Kermit
    • Clifton, Florence G. "Susie"
    • Cohen, Meyer
    • Douglas, George
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Douglas, Marvin
    • Douglas, Peter
    • Dunne, Philip
    • Hogan, Charles A. "Hogie"
    • Leighter, Jackson
    • Loy, Myrna
    • Schary, Dore
    • Seymour, Anne
    • Shumlin, Herman
    • Stevens, Nan
    • Trivas, Irene

Access Status: Open

Arthur, Thomas H. , October 12, 1979

No(s): 80-037

Physical Description: Not transcribed; 1 reel, 1 7/8 ips, 60 minutes

Scope and Content Note: In this interview, Thomas H. Arthur records his impressions of the filming of Tell Me a Riddle , starring Melvyn Douglas, in the context of the biography and life of Melvyn Douglas.

Indexed Terms:

  • Subjects:
    • Tell Me a Riddle

Access Status: Open

Barrett, Edith , January 1975

No(s): 75-021

Physical Description: 16 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 40 minutes; index

Scope and Content Note: In this interview, Edith Barrett, veteran Broadway actress, recalls acting under the direction of Melvyn Douglas in the Broadway play, Moor Born . Barrett recalls Douglas' talent and sensitivity as a director and Helen Gahagan Douglas' strength as an actress in the same play.

Indexed Terms:

  • Occupations:
    • actress
  • Subjects:
    • acting
    • Moor Born
    • theater directing
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • Bonstelle Company
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Douglas, Melvyn
    • Finley, Tom
    • Totheroh, Dan

Access Status: Open

Bellamy, Ralph , January 4, 1975

No(s): 75-019

Physical Description: 33 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 1 hour 20 minutes; no index

Scope and Content Note: Ralph Bellamy, born in 1904, was one of Melvyn Douglas's oldest friends. Bellamy discusses their early days together as actors in stock companies. He also talks about his own acting career as well and shares his thoughts on the state of the entertainment industry in first half of the twentieth century.

Indexed Terms:

  • Places:
    • Evansville, Indiana
    • Hollywood, California
    • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Occupations:
    • actor
  • Subjects:
    • motion picture sound
    • salaries
    • stock companies
    • Theater
    • theatrical plays
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • Screen Actors Guild
  • People:
    • Bonstelle, Jessie
    • Hesselberg, Edouard
    • Hesselberg, Lena Shackleford
    • Owen, William

Access Status: Open

Bloomgarden, Kermit , March 13, 1975

No(s): 75-033

Physical Description: 5 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips; no index

Scope and Content Note: Kermit Bloomgarden worked with Melvyn Douglas on two plays. He briefly discusses these two works and his and others' impressions of Mr. Douglas.

Indexed Terms:

  • Subjects:
    • Broadway
    • The Gang's All Here
    • Maiden Voyage
    • studio actors
    • theatrical plays

Access Status: Open

Chavoor, Evelyn , December 7, 1974

No(s): 75-016

Physical Description: 44 pages; 2 reels, 3 3/4 ips, 1 hour 45 minutes; no index

Scope and Content Note: Evelyn Chavoor worked in the Douglas household, as household help, a stenographer, and secretary, for a major portion of her adult life. She discusses Douglas's acting career, his relationship with his wife and other family members, his interest in politics, and how the Douglas household functioned.

Indexed Terms:

  • Occupations:
    • secretary
  • Subjects:
    • awards
    • Communism
    • Culbert Olson campaign
    • depression
    • health problems
    • Judaism
    • migrant camps
    • politics
    • privacy
    • tolerance
    • World War II
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • Columbia Pictures
    • Hollywood Democratic Committee
    • MGM
    • United States Army
    • United States Congress
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Douglas, Mary Helen
    • Douglas, Peter
    • Hesselberg, Lena Shackleford

Access Status: Open

Clifton, Florence G. "Susie" , January 6, 1975

No(s): 75-023

Physical Description: 76 pages; 2 reels, 3 3/4 ips, 180 minutes; no index

Scope and Content Note: Florence G. "Susie" Clifton, a Democrat, volunteer, and active participant in California politics for over thirty years, beginning in the early nineteen thirties, discusses her association with Melvyn Douglas in this interview. Clifton speaks of many of Douglas' admirable personal characteristics, political activities, and general character, especially as they were revealed in the contexts of California politics, national politics, his family life, and his service in World War II. Clifton worked with Douglas, and later, his wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas, on several political campaigns in California in the nineteen forties.

Indexed Terms:

  • Places:
    • California
  • Subjects:
    • anti-Semitism
    • California politics
    • civil rights
    • family problems
    • Hollywood
    • migrant camps
    • national politics
    • political leadership
    • Religion
    • World War II
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • Democratic Party
    • Peace Corps (U.S.)
    • Motion Picture Democratic Committee
    • United States Office of Civilian Defense
  • Family Names:
    • Douglas
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Ford, Leland
    • Gibson, Phil
    • Olson, Culbert Levy
    • Malone, Bill
    • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
    • Roosevelt, Franklin Delano
    • Roosevelt, Jimmy

Access Status: Open

Cohen, Myer , March 12, 1975

No(s): 75-031

Physical Description: 45 pages; 2 reels, 3 3/4 ips, 1 hour 45 minutes; photocopy of photograph, black and white photograph, personal data sheet, biographical sketch

Scope and Content Note: Myer Cohen, born in 1907, describes Melvyn and Helen Gahagan Douglas's involvement in politics from the nineteen thirties through the mid-nineteen seventies, as well as Melvyn Douglas's interest in the United Nations.

Indexed Terms:

  • Places:
    • Israel
    • Yugoslavia
  • Occupations:
    • actor
    • army private
  • Subjects:
    • anti-Semitism
    • John F. Kennedy assassination
    • migrant camps
    • military disarmament
    • politics
    • Watergate
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • American Jewish Committee
    • B'nai Brith
    • Democratic Party
    • United Nations
    • United Nations Development Program
    • United States Farm Security Administration
    • International Refugee Organization
    • United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
  • Family Names:
    • Honn
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Douglas, Melvyn
    • Crawford, Joan
    • Eagleton, Thomas F.
    • Hogan, Charles A. "Hogie"
    • Honn, Carolyn
    • Hutchins, Robert M.
    • Johnson, Lyndon Baines
    • LaGuardia, Fiorella
    • Mann, James Robert
    • Micheljohn, Alexander
    • Nixon, Richard Milhous
    • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
    • Steffens, Lincoln
    • Wolf, Simon

Access Status: Open

DeSalle, Peggy , April 18, 1980

No(s): 80-035

Physical Description: Not transcribed; 1 reel, 1 7/8 ips, 30 minutes

Scope and Content Note: Peggy DeSalle discusses her relationship with Hollywood, television, and theater actor and political activist, Melvyn Douglas.

Indexed Terms:

  • Subjects:
    • acting
  • People:
    • Douglas, Melvyn

Access Status: Open

De Sola, Alis , May 28, 1974

No(s): 75-003

Physical Description: 62 pages; 2 open reel tapes, 3 3/4 ips, no index

Language: English .

Scope Note: Alis DeSola,a writer and longtime friend of both Helen Gahagan Douglas and Melvyn Douglas, discusses how she came to be friends with each separately and her impressions of their personalities and fitness as a couple. She discusses at length her impressionis of Melvyn as an actor, his style, ability, and moral character. She also discusses his connection to his Jewish heitage.

Indexed Terms:

  • Subjects:
    • acting
    • Jewish haritage
    • Marriage
    • psychoanalysis
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Douglas, Melvyn
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • Muscular Dystrophy Association

Douglas, George , January 3, 1975

No(s): 75-018

Physical Description: 37 pages; 2 reels, 3 3/4 ips, 1 hour, 30 minutes

Scope and Content Note: George Douglas reflects on the career of his brother, Melvyn Douglas, their parents, the places they lived, and their relationship as adults.

Indexed Terms:

  • Places:
    • Chicago, Illinois
    • Lincoln, Nebraska
    • Macon, Georgia
    • New York, New York
    • Nyack, New Jersey
    • Toronto, Canada
    • Wiesbaden, Germany
  • Occupations:
    • actor
    • Musician
    • pianist
  • Subjects:
    • Theater
    • Ziegfeld Follies
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • Bonstelle Company
    • Chicago Conservatory of Music
    • University of Toronto
  • Family Names:
    • Douglas
    • Hesselberg
  • People:
    • Bellamy, Ralph
    • Bradley, Preston
    • Douglas, Marvin
    • Douglas, Melvyn
    • Owen, William

Access Status: Open

Douglas, Helen Gahagan , January 2, 1973

No(s): 73-002

Physical Description: 15 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 30 minutes

Scope and Content Note: Helen Gahagan Douglas, born in 1900, interviewed for a biography of her husband, Melvyn Douglas, describes her work with migrant farm workers in California, her relationship with Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt, and her involvement in California and national Democratic Party politics. The transcript was changed substantially and significantly by the interviewee and thus no longer corresponds closely with the recorded interview.

Indexed Terms:

  • Places:
    • California
    • Vienna, Austria
  • Occupations:
    • opera singer
    • actress
    • Democratic National Committee member
    • California Democratic co-chairman
  • Subjects:
    • 1940 Democratic National Convention
    • aluminum
    • Dust Bowl
    • Farm Security camps
    • migrant camps
    • political elections
    • women in politics
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • Anti-Nazi League
    • Civilian Defense Committee
    • Democratic National Committee
    • Fight for Freedom Committee
    • John Steinbeck Committee
    • Resettlement Program
    • United States Farm Security Administration
  • People:
    • Douglas, Melvyn
    • Malone, William
    • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
    • Roosevelt, Franklin Delano

Access Status: Open

Douglas, Melvyn , December 22, 1973, December 26, 1973, July 2, 1974, July 24, 1974, May 13, 1974

No(s): 72-005

Physical Description: 2155 pages; 65 reels, 3 3/4 ips (except side 2, reel 15, 1 7/8 ips.), 86 hours, 15 minutes; no index

Scope and Content Note: Melvyn Douglas, actor, director, and political activist, discusses his life. Douglas begins with his early childhood and touches on many of his life experiences, including his early acting days, his life in the United States Army, his travels, his involvement in politics, and the many interesting people he met along the way. Extensive attention is given to Douglas's acting career and he discusses the majority of films and plays with which he was involved.

Indexed Terms:

  • Places:
    • Australia
    • California
    • Chicago, Illinois
    • China
    • Evansville, Indiana
    • India
    • Ireland
    • Japan
    • London, England
    • Madison, Wisconsin
    • Mexico
    • Palestine
    • Paris, France
    • Russia
    • Toronto, Canada
  • Occupations:
    • actor
    • movie director
    • newspaper reporter
    • teacher
  • Subjects:
    • 1930 Motion Picture Production Code (Hays Code)
    • Academy Awards
    • alcoholism
    • All in the Family
    • Angel
    • anti-Semitism
    • army hospitals
    • The Autumn Garden
    • basic training
    • Ben Casey, M.D.
    • The Best Man
    • The Bird Cage
    • Bonds for Israel
    • Call Me Mister
    • Captains Courageous
    • chautauqua tour
    • Deluxe
    • Dill Pickle Club
    • Dorothy Laverne Company
    • free agency
    • French film
    • The Gang's All Here
    • Glad Tidings
    • The Gorgeous Hussy
    • Great Depression
    • The Great Sinner
    • The Guilt of Janet Ames
    • health problems
    • Holocaust
    • Hud
    • I'll Take Romance
    • influenza
    • Inherit the Wind
    • Judaism
    • labor
    • The Little Blue Light
    • The Lone Wolf
    • love scenes
    • McCarthyism
    • migrant camps
    • Moor Born
    • morphine
    • Mother Lode
    • movie studios
    • Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
    • My Forbidden Past
    • My Own True Love
    • Nagana
    • New Deal
    • Ninotchka
    • No More Ladies
    • nosebleeds
    • On the Loose
    • Our Town
    • Playhouse 90
    • politics
    • Pollyanna
    • poverty
    • prostitution
    • racial prejudice
    • Rapture
    • reading
    • Religion
    • retakes
    • Sea of Grass
    • Shakespearean actors
    • She Married Her Boss
    • silent films
    • And So They Were Married
    • social life
    • Spanish Civil War
    • stardom
    • stock companies
    • studio contracts
    • Sweet and Sour
    • Television
    • Theater
    • theatrical notices
    • theatrical previews
    • Theodora Goes Wild
    • Time Out for Ginger
    • Tonight or Never
    • Too Many Husbands
    • Two Blind Mice
    • Two-Faced Woman
    • United States government
    • Waltz of the Toreadors
    • A Woman's Face
    • A Woman's Secret
    • World War II
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • Anti-Nazi League
    • authors War Board
    • California National Guard
    • China-Burma-India Campaign
    • Columbia Pictures
    • Communist Party
    • Cosmopolitan School Association
    • Entertainment Production Unit
    • Fight for Freedom Committee
    • Greek War Relief Fund
    • MGM
    • Motion Picture Democratic Committee
    • Playmongers
    • RKO Pictures
    • Screen Actors Guild
    • Theatre Guild
    • United Service Organization
    • United States Army
    • United States Office of Civilian Defense
    • United States Office of War Information
    • University of Wisconsin-Madison
    • William Allen White Committee
    • William Morris Agency
  • Family Names:
    • Barrymore
    • Habbibullah
    • Jellifs
  • People:
    • Aikens, Zooey
    • Allen, Lee
    • Anthony, Joe
    • Bayner, Faye
    • Begley, Ed
    • Belasco, David
    • Bellamy, Ralph
    • Bercovici, Conrad
    • Boleslawski, Richard
    • Bonstelle, Jessie
    • Booth, Shirley
    • Brady, William
    • Bullis, Gardner
    • Chaplin, Charlie
    • Claire, Ina
    • Clurman, Harold
    • Cohn, Harry
    • Cooper, Duff
    • Cowell, Jane
    • Crawford, Joan
    • Crown, Henry
    • Cronyn, Hume
    • Cruz, Laura Hope
    • Cukor, George
    • Darvas, Lilly
    • de Wilde, Brandon
    • Dietrich, Marlene
    • Dixon, Jeanne
    • Douglas, Paul
    • Dunn, Irene
    • Ferrar, Joe
    • Gardner, Ava
    • Graham, Gloria
    • Hall, Alexander
    • Hope, Bob
    • Hopper, Hedda
    • Hornblow, Arthur
    • Hussey, Ruth
    • Huxley, Aldous
    • Ickes, Harold
    • Jaffe, Sam
    • Karloff, Boris
    • Kellard, John
    • Kurnitz, Harry
    • Landis, James
    • Leonard, William Elroy
    • Lovejoy, Frank
    • Loy, Myrna
    • Lubitsch, Ernst
    • Malone, Nancy
    • Marshall, E.G.
    • Mastfogel, Steven
    • McQueen, Steve
    • Mitchum, Robert
    • Moise, Nina
    • Monar, Clarence
    • Muni, Paul
    • Nathan, George
    • Neal, Patricia
    • Newman, Paul
    • Niven, David
    • Oberon, Merle
    • O'Hara, Maureen
    • Owen, William
    • Pierpont, Laura
    • Pravda, George
    • Ratoff, Gregory
    • Reiner, Louise
    • Rich, Marty
    • Ring, Blanche
    • Schaeffer, George
    • Schary, Dore
    • Segall, Gabriel
    • Shearer, Norma
    • Shumlin, Herman
    • Smith, Lois
    • Sondergaard, Gale
    • Spacewak, Bella
    • Spacewak, Sam
    • Stevens, Nan
    • Stokowski, Leopold
    • Stuart, Don
    • Sullivan, Margaret
    • Tandy, Jessica
    • Tracy, Spencer
    • Ustinov, Peter
    • Viertel, Berthold
    • Walheim, Louie
    • Wilder, Billy
    • Wilder, Thornton
    • Wolcott, Alexander
    • Wright, Frank Lloyd
    • Young, Robert

Access Status: Open

Dunne, Philip , 1975

No(s): 75-022

Physical Description: 47 pages; 2 reels, 3 3/4 ips, 1 hour, 50 minutes; black and white photograph

Scope and Content Note: Philip Dunne, born in 1908, describes the activities of the Motional Picture Democratic Committee in the late nineteen thirties and at the outset of World War II.

Indexed Terms:

  • Places:
    • Finland
    • Los Angeles, California
  • Occupations:
    • author
    • movie director
  • Subjects:
    • 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact
    • Boas Resolution
    • Communists
    • New Deal
    • political campaigns
    • politics
    • World War II
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • authors War Board
    • Democratic Party
    • Hollywood for Roosevelt
    • Motion Picture Democratic Committee
  • People:
    • Boas, Franz
    • Cobb, Humphrey
    • Hammett, Dashiell
    • Hopkins, Miriam
    • Ickes, Harold
    • Nixon, Richard Milhous
    • Olson, Culbert Levy
    • Roosevelt, Franklin Delano
    • Voorhis, Jerry

Access Status: Open

Engel, Lehman , March 12, 1975

No(s): 75-032

Physical Description: 35 pages; 2 reels, 3 3/4 ips, 80 minutes; no index; photo of interviewee

Scope and Content Note: Lehman Engel, renowned composer and conductor, discusses his friendship and collaboration with Melvyn Douglas and Douglas' wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas. Engel enumerates Melvyn Douglas' positive characteristics, including creativity, personal warmth, and lack of pretension. He speaks of their enduring friendship, Douglas' political activities and the ways in which these activities related to the arts.

Indexed Terms:

  • Occupations:
    • music conductor
    • Musician
  • Subjects:
    • Broadway
    • Call Me Mister
    • Hollywood
    • national politics
    • Within the Gates
    • World War II
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • United States Office of Civilian Defense
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Lusk, Milton
    • Reynolds, Jimmy
    • Rome, Harold
    • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962

Access Status: Open

Gruber, Lester , April 17, 1980

No(s): 80-036

Physical Description: Not transcribed; 1 reel, 1 7/8 ips, 30 minutes

Scope and Content Note: In this interview, Lester Gruber briefly describes his knowledge of and relations with the actor and political activist, Melvyn Douglas.

Indexed Terms:

  • Subjects:
    • acting
  • Family Names:
    • Douglas

Access Status: Open

Hausman, Howard , November 29, 1974

No(s): 75-014

Physical Description: 58 pages; 2 reels, 3 3/4 ips, 140 minutes; no index

Scope and Content Note: Howard Hausman, Melvyn Douglas' acting agent beginning in the early Sixties, discusses Douglas' work in movies, television, and radio in the latter part of Douglas' career. Hausman speaks of Douglas' character, family, work ethic, and the effects of the health problems Douglas was beset with beginning in the early Sixties. In addition, Hausman comments on Douglas' talents as an actor, his incisive understanding of scripts and roles, and his strong political beliefs.

Indexed Terms:

  • Occupations:
    • theatrical agent
  • Subjects:
    • acting
    • Death Squad
    • health problems
    • Marriage
    • Spofford
    • theatrical plays
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • William Morris Agency
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
    • Roosevelt, Franklin Delano

Access Status: Open

Hirsh, Selma G. , January 2, 1973

No(s): 73-001

Physical Description: 22 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 50 minutes; no index; photo of interviewee

Scope and Content Note: In this interview, Selma G. Hirsh discusses her experiences working as an administrative assistant under Melvyn Douglas in the Office of Civilian Defense during World War II. She speaks of Douglas' character, his actions as an administrator, and the goals of the Office of Civilian Defense. In addition, Hirsh recalls the press's hostility and anti-Semitic remarks directed towards Melvyn Douglas. She also comments on Douglas' political activism and beliefs.

Indexed Terms:

  • Occupations:
    • administrative assistant
  • Subjects:
    • anti-Semitism
    • army service
    • Hollywood
    • press hostility
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • authors War Board
    • United States Office of Civilian Defense
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Landis, James
    • Gable, Clark
    • Mellett, Lowell
    • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962

Access Status: Open

Hogan, Charles A. , January 10, 1975

No(s): 75-028

Physical Description: 15 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 40 minutes; no index

Scope and Content Note: Charles A. Hogan, a friend of both Melvyn Douglas and his wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas, discusses his relationship with the couple. Hogan lived, at times, with the Douglases, writing speeches for Helen; Hogan and Melvyn Douglas engaged in long conversations, which revealed Douglas' intellectual nature and abilities. In addition, Hogan speaks of Gahagan Douglas' political career, and the political activities and beliefs of both the Douglases.

Indexed Terms:

  • Subjects:
    • Communism
    • Hollywood
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Olson, Culbert Levy

Access Status: Open

Hogan, Charles; Totheroh, Dan , January 10, 1975

No(s): 75-029

Physical Description: 20 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 50 minutes; no index

Scope and Content Note: In this interview, Charles Hogan and Dan Totheroh, both authors, discuss their knowledge of and relationships with Melvyn Douglas and his wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas. They discuss Douglas as both an actor and a director, and speak of how Melvyn and Helen Douglas were each politically active in different ways. In addition, Douglas' experience serving in World War II is discussed, as is the Hollywood blacklisting that occurred in the wake of the Red Scare.

Indexed Terms:

  • Occupations:
    • author
  • Subjects:
    • acting
    • blacklisting
    • Hollywood
    • Moor Born
    • politics
    • theater directing
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Mayer, Louis B.
    • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962

Access Status: Open

Jennings, Rosa Lee Patrick; Morehead, Elizabeth Jennings , April 18, 1974

No(s): 74-010

Physical Description: 34 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 80 minutes; no index

Scope and Content Note: In this interview, Rosa Lee Patrick Jennings, assisted by her daughter, Elizabeth Jennings Morehead, recalls the tutelage she recieved under Melvyn Douglas' father, Edouard Hesselberg, around the turn of the century (ca. 1901). Jennings recalls the day that Hesselberg, an accomplished and acclaimed pianist who had performed throughout the world, announced the birth of his son, Melvyn, in class.

Indexed Terms:

  • People:
    • Hesselberg, Edouard

Access Status: Open

Leighter, Jackson , January 8, 1975

No(s): 75-027

Physical Description: 27 pages; 2 reels, 3 3/4 ips, 65 minutes; no index

Scope and Content Note: In this interview, Jackson Leighter speaks of his long-standing friendship with Melvyn Douglas, and his wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas. Leighter emphasizes Melvyn Douglas' intellectual nature and liberal political activism in such venues as Bundles for Britain and the Anti-Fascist League. In addition, Leighter describes Douglas' character, personality, sense of humor, and great acting ability.

Indexed Terms:

  • Subjects:
    • Call Me Mister
    • liberalism
    • Hollywood
    • political activism
    • politics
    • World War II
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • Motion Picture Democratic Committee
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Fairbanks, Douglas, Jr.
    • Garbo, Greta
    • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
    • Welles, Orson, 1915-1985

Access Status: Open

Loy, Myrna , March 13, 1975

No(s): 75-034

Physical Description: 28 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 65 minutes; no index; photo of interviewee

Scope and Content Note: Myrna Loy, famed Hollywood actress of the silver screen, recalls working with Melvyn Douglas on a few films in the Thirties. She discusses his acting techniques, style, and ability, as well as the political activities of he and his wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas. Many of these activities took place in the context of blacklisting and McCarthyism, both of which Loy recalls and describes.

Indexed Terms:

  • Occupations:
    • actress
  • Subjects:
    • acting
    • blacklisting
    • Judaism
    • McCarthyism
    • national politics
    • Third Finger, Left Hand
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • Committee for the First Amendment
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Nixon, Richard Milhous
    • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962

Access Status: Open

Malone, Nancy; Nuell, Fay , January 7, 1975

No(s): 75-025

Physical Description: 29 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 1 hour, 10 minutes

Scope and Content Note: Nancy Malone describes her relationship with Melvyn Douglas, which began in the early nineteen fifties when they were both in the Boradway show Time Out for Ginger . Malone talks about Douglas's influence on her acting and production career and their longtime friendship.

Indexed Terms:

  • Occupations:
    • actress
    • television producer
  • Subjects:
    • Time Out for Ginger
    • Communism
    • McCarthyism
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • American Legion
    • CBS
    • Red Channels
    • Screen Actors Guild
  • People:
    • Alexander, Ronnie
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Douglas, Melvyn
    • Garbo, Greta
    • Hartzig, Mary
    • Loeb, Philip
    • McQueen, Steve

Access Status: Open

Pick, Walter R. , January 7, 1975

No(s): 75-024

Physical Description: 36 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 1 hour, 25 minutes

Scope and Content Note: Walter R. Pick, born in 1914, was a first cousin of Helen Gahagan Douglas and, for a short time, a secretary to her and her husband, Melvyn Douglas, during the late nineteen thirties. He describes his relationship to the Douglases as a family member and employee.

Indexed Terms:

  • Places:
    • California
  • Occupations:
    • actor
    • secretary
  • Subjects:
    • anti-Semitism
    • politics
    • Tonight or Never
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • Anti-Nazi League
    • Democratic Party
    • John Steinbeck Committee
    • MGM
    • Motion Picture Democratic Committee
  • People:
    • Baker, Diane
    • Baruch, Joan
    • Chavoor, Evie
    • Debs, Eugene V.
    • Disney, Walt
    • Douglas, Donald
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Douglas, Melvyn
    • Garbo, Greta
    • Garland, Judy
    • Grimball, Elizabeth
    • Hesselberg, George
    • Olson, Culbert Levy
    • Parsons, Louella
    • Perkins, Frances
    • Robinson, Edward G.
    • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962

Access Status: Open

Randall, Tony , July 24, 1974

No(s): 75-001

Physical Description: 42 pages; 2 reels, 3 3/4 ips, 100 minutes; no index; photo of interviewee

Scope and Content Note: In this interview, renowned actor Tony Randall recalls his collaboration with Melvyn Douglas in the acclaimed play, Inherit the Wind . Randall comments on Douglas' acting ability and techniques, his interpretation of the role in the play, and his political activism. In addition to discussing the play, Randall speaks of Douglas' character and personality, and of acting techniques in general.

Indexed Terms:

  • Occupations:
    • actor
  • Subjects:
    • acting
    • blacklisting
    • Inherit the Wind
    • McCarthyism
    • political activism
  • People:
    • Bryan, William Jennings
    • Hitler, Adolf
    • Mayer, Louis B.
    • Muni, Paul
    • Nixon, Richard Milhous
    • Shumlin, Herman

Access Status: Open (not for commercial use)

Schaefer, George , January 8, 1975

No(s): 75-026

Physical Description: 15 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 35 minutes; no index; photo of interviewee

Scope and Content Note: George Schaefer, a successful Hollywood, television, and theater producer, speaks of his collaborations with Melvyn Douglas. The two worked together on three productions, one of which led to Douglas' winning of an Emmy award. Schaefer discusses Douglas' comedic and dramatic acting talent, his intellectual nature, his character and personality, and the health problems that later efffected his ability to work.

Indexed Terms:

  • Occupations:
    • producer
  • Subjects:
    • acting
    • Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night
    • health problems
    • Inherit the Wind
  • People:
    • Harris, Julie
    • March, Fredric
    • Rigg, Diana

Access Status: Open

Schary, Dore , March 10, 1975

No(s): 75-030

Physical Description: 20 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 50 minutes; no index

Scope and Content Note: Dore Schary, former screen author and head of MGM Studios, recalls his past associations with Melvyn Douglas. Schary comments on the genuineness of Douglas' character, which came across in his performances. He cites some of Douglas' finest acting moments and describes his sense of comedic timing and the sensual aura that surrounded him. In addition, Schary discusses Douglas' political activism in the context of the Red Scare.

Indexed Terms:

  • Subjects:
    • acting
    • McCarthyism
    • politics
    • sexuality
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • MGM
  • People:
    • Bellamy, Ralph
    • Mayer, Louis B.
    • Tracy, Spencer

Access Status: Open (tapes not for commercial use)

Seymour, Anne , January 4, 1975

No(s): 75-020

Physical Description: 45 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 110 minutes; no index; photo of interviewee

Scope and Content Note: In this interview, Anne Seymour discusses her admiration for and longstanding friendship with her fellow actor, Melvyn Douglas. Seymour relates examples of Douglas' kindness and character, and praises his acting abilities. She recalls her first play, The Husband Habit as the place where she made her first acquaintance with Melvyn Douglas.

Indexed Terms:

  • Occupations:
    • actress
  • Subjects:
    • acting
    • health problems
    • The Husband Habit
  • People:
    • Bellamy, Ralph
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • George, Grace

Access Status: Open

Shumlin, Herman , November 30, 1974

No(s): 75-002

Physical Description: 41 pages; 2 reels, 3 3/4 ips, 1 hour, 35 minutes

Scope and Content Note: Herman Shumlin was a Broadway producer who worked with Melvyn Douglas in the show Inherit the Wind . He describes Douglas's work as an actor and provides insight into his personal life.

Indexed Terms:

  • Places:
    • Vermont
  • Occupations:
    • actor
    • producer
  • Subjects:
    • Grand Hotel
    • Inherit the Wind
    • Reuben, Reuben
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • United States Office of Civilian Defense
  • People:
    • Cassidy, Claudia
    • Conreid, Hans
    • deVries, Peter
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Douglas, Melvyn
    • Muni, Paul
    • Randall, Tony

Access Status: Open

Sondergaard, Gale , June 11, 1979

No(s): 79-046

Physical Description: 56 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 1 hour, 30 minutes

Scope and Content Note: Gale Sondergaard describes her career as an actress, with emphasis on the influence of politics on the profession, and the profession's influence on politics in the United States in the mid-twentieth century. She notes events of the World War II era and the Cold War era and talks about other actors and actresses of her day.

Indexed Terms:

  • Places:
    • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Occupations:
    • actor
    • actress
  • Subjects:
    • acting
    • Anna and the King of Siam
    • blacklisting
    • progressivism
    • socialism
    • Woman: Her Emergence Into Fuller Status as a Human Being in Relation to Her Mate
    • women's movement
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact
    • Anti-Nazi League
    • Dramatics
    • Keller Shakespeare Company
    • Playmongers
    • University of Minnesota
  • People:
    • Albee, Edward
    • Anders, Glen
    • Brando, Marlon
    • Dennis, Sandy
    • Douglas, Melvyn
    • O'Malley, Neil
    • Randall, Tony
    • Redford, Robert

Access Status: Open

Stevens, Nan , June 3, 1974

No(s): 75-012

Physical Description: 68 pages; 2 reels, 3 3/4 ips, 2 hours 45 minutes; no index

Scope and Content Note: Nan Stevens, secretary and business manager to both Melvyn Douglas and his wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas, handled the correspondence and fan mail of the Douglases beginning in 1950. Over the years, Stevens came to know Melvyn, Helen, and their children quite well. In this interview, she relates her impressions of Melvyn Douglas' personality, character, connection to Judaism, and his marriage to Helen Gahagan Douglas. In addition, Stevens comments on the problems of the Douglas children as well as the individual strengths of both Melvyn and Helen Douglas.

Indexed Terms:

  • Occupations:
    • business manager
    • secretary
  • Subjects:
    • Hollywood
    • I Never Sang for My Father
    • Judaism
    • Marriage
  • Family Names:
    • Douglas
  • People:
    • Bruce, Carol
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Garland, Judy

Access Status: Open

Trivas, Irene , November 30, 1974

No(s): 75-015

Physical Description: 41 pages; 2 reels, 3 3/4 ips, 95 minutes; no index

Scope and Content Note: Irene Trivas, whose acquaintance with Melvyn Douglas, his wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas, and their children, began in her Hollywood youth, discusses her perceptions of the Douglases and the difference they made in her life. Trivas also speaks of their marriage, the role of politics in their lives, the blacklisting that resulted from the Red Scare, and family problems the Douglases experienced. In addition, she recalls the dirty campaign of 1950, in which Richard Nixon utilized the fear of communism that characterized the Red Scare to diminish Douglas' reputation.

Indexed Terms:

  • Subjects:
    • 1950 Nixon-Douglas campaign
    • blacklisting
    • California politics
    • family problems
    • Hollywood
    • Marriage
    • Red Scare
  • Family Names:
    • Douglas
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Hesselberg, Lena Shackleford
    • Nixon, Richard Milhous

Access Status: Open

Voorhis, Jerry; Voorhis, Louise , August 22, 1972

No(s): 72-006

Physical Description: 21 pages; 1 reel, 3 3/4 ips, 45 minutes; index; hardcover bound copy of interview

Scope and Content Note: Jerry and Louise Voorhis, longstanding political acquaintances of Melvyn Douglas and his wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas, discuss the political activities of the Douglases in the context of California, national, and international politics. In addition, the Douglases' political activism is discussed with regard to anti-Semitism, anti-communism, and Nazism, which characterized portions of politics for much of the middle of the twentieth century.

Indexed Terms:

  • Subjects:
    • anti-communism
    • anti-Semitism
    • California politics
    • Hollywood
    • Nazism
    • World War II
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • United States Congress
  • Family Names:
    • Roosevelt
  • People:
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Ford, Leland

Access Status: Open

Williams, Hosea , June 14, 1974

No(s): 79-004

Physical Description: 57 pages; no tape; no index

Scope and Content Note: Reverend Hosea Williams, a close friend of Dr. King's, reflects on the Civil Rights Movement and offers many insights into the great leader's character. Reverend Williams discusses Dr. King's commitment to non-violence and his desire to serve the masses. He also shares many anecdotes and reflects on the remnants of the movement after Dr. King's death.

Indexed Terms:

  • Places:
    • California
    • Hollywood, California
  • Occupations:
    • actor
    • author
    • editor
    • playwright
  • Subjects:
    • Academy Awards
    • Ethics
    • politics
    • psychoanalysis
    • Theater
  • Corporate Bodies:
    • Barnard College
    • Muscular Dystrophy Association
  • People:
    • Douglas, Gregory
    • Douglas, Helen Gahagan
    • Douglas, Melvyn
    • Douglas, Peter
    • Nixon, Richard Milhous

Access Status: Open