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A Players Flashback: 1929

Updated: Dec 24, 2020


Ninety years ago, The Players Bulletin dedicated its cover to the end of an era: the last of the club incorporators had died. Brander Matthews, a professor at Columbia University, was not a household name as were some of his Players colleagues, but he loomed large in the world of academic study of theatre and dramatic literature. Born to a privileged background, Matthews married actress Ada Harland (who left the stage at that time). As a professor, however, he refused to admit women to his graduate courses and dismissed the idea of women as playwrights.

In the same issue, an item notes the April 26, 1929 celebration of “Ladies' Day” at The Players. William Shakespeare's birthday was the annual occasion for the members to host an invited group of women in the clubhouse. Precisely 60 years later, the first class of women were finally admitted as full voting members of the club.

Townes Coates is a producer and writer. He is Co-Chair of Membership at The Players. Most often found in the Grill or on the A train, Townes lives on the West Side somewhere between Zabar's and Canada.

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Claiborne Ray
Claiborne Ray
25 Haz 2019

Of the ladies at that august occasion, I tecognize the names of only two: Mary Ellis, the original “Rose-Marie” and later the toast of the West End, and Dorothy Stickney, the mother in her husband’s “Life With Father.” Both of them made it well into their second centuries. Ellis, a frequent co-star of Ivor Novello, was still entertaing at her Eaton Square home until shortly before her death at 105 in 2003. Her obituary was one of my favorite one I assigned as deputy obituary editor at The Times.

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