Research Catalog

Mary Ellis papers

Title
Mary Ellis papers, 1897-2003.
Author
Ellis, Mary, 1900-2003.
Supplementary Content
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StatusVol/DateFormatAccessCall NumberItem Location
Box 1Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 1Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 2Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 2Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 3Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 3Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 4Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 4Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 5Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 5Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 6Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 6Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 7Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 7Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 8Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 8Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 9Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 9Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 10Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 10Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 11Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 11Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 12Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 12Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 13Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 13Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 14Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 14Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 15Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 15Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 16Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 16Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 17Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 17Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 18Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 18Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre
Box 19Mixed materialSupervised use *T-Mss 2003-017 Box 19Performing Arts Research Collections - Theatre

Details

Additional Authors
Description
13.625 lin. ft. (19 boxes)
Subjects
Genre/Form
  • Photocollages.
  • Scrapbooks.
  • Scripts.
  • Sheet music.
Access (note)
  • Collection is open to the public. Library policy on photography and photocopying will apply. Advance notice may be required.
Biography (note)
  • Singer and actress Mary Ellis was born May Belle Elsas, June 15, 1897 (some sources say 1900) in New York, NY. She changed her name to Mary Ellis in 1918, when the Metropolitan Opera signed the soprano to a four-year contract. She made her Metropolitan debut December 14, 1918, in the world premiere of Giacomo Puccini's SUOR ANGELICA, and in 1919, she appeared in the premiere of Albert Wolff's operatic rendering of Maeterlinck's THE BLUE BIRD (L'OISEAU BLEU). In 1922, she left the Metropolitan for a David Belasco production of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, and in 1924 she originated the title role in Otto Harbach, Oscar Hammerstein, Rudolf Friml, and Herbert Stothart's operetta ROSE MARIE. Through the 1920s and into the 1930s, she performed in a number of plays with her third husband, Basil Sydney.
Indexes/Finding Aids (note)
  • Finding aid available in repository and on internet.
Call Number
*T-Mss 2003-017
Author
Ellis, Mary, 1900-2003.
Title
Mary Ellis papers, 1897-2003.
Summary
The Mary Ellis papers span the years 1897 to 2003, from a newspaper published on the date of her birth to the obituaries following her death. The collection, consisting of correspondence and personal papers, production files, photographs, scrapbooks, clippings, and a few items of ephemera, documents the singer-actress' life and career in opera, theatre, film, and television, both in her native United States and in her adopted home of England. The correspondence series includes numerous letters, notes, cards, and telegrams from Ivor Novello, opera singer Geraldine Farrar, actor Romney Brent, actress Mary Morris, director Fritz Lang, theatre manager Hugh "Binkie" Beaumont, and illustrator Arthur Wragg. In addition, there is some professional correspondence from various stages of Ms. Ellis' career, including her time at the Metropolitan Opera. Highlights of her personal papers include a copy of the "Rhapsody in Blue" score personally inscribed by George Gershwin, a signed portrait of Ivor Novello, and a number of items relating to Novello's death. Production files include scripts and programs, along with a few pieces of sheet music.
Restricted Access
Collection is open to the public. Library policy on photography and photocopying will apply. Advance notice may be required.
Summary
In the photographs series, portraits and snapshots cover Ms. Ellis' lifespan with few gaps, and also encompass a number of friends and family members. The actress' theatre and Hollywood film credits are well represented by hundreds of black and white production stills. Scrapbooks provide excellent coverage of Ms. Ellis' time at the Metropolitan Opera, and of her largely American-based acting career through 1932. The bulk of the actress' career in England is not represented in the scrapbooks, although it is well documented in the clippings series. Finally, two printed photocollages among the collection's oversized materials demonstrate at a glance the breadth of the subject's life and career.
Biography
Singer and actress Mary Ellis was born May Belle Elsas, June 15, 1897 (some sources say 1900) in New York, NY. She changed her name to Mary Ellis in 1918, when the Metropolitan Opera signed the soprano to a four-year contract. She made her Metropolitan debut December 14, 1918, in the world premiere of Giacomo Puccini's SUOR ANGELICA, and in 1919, she appeared in the premiere of Albert Wolff's operatic rendering of Maeterlinck's THE BLUE BIRD (L'OISEAU BLEU). In 1922, she left the Metropolitan for a David Belasco production of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, and in 1924 she originated the title role in Otto Harbach, Oscar Hammerstein, Rudolf Friml, and Herbert Stothart's operetta ROSE MARIE. Through the 1920s and into the 1930s, she performed in a number of plays with her third husband, Basil Sydney.
In 1933, Mary Ellis settled in London, where she began an association with actor-composer-writer-director Ivor Novello, eventually starring in three of his musical plays: GLAMOROUS NIGHT (1935), THE DANCING YEARS (1939), and ARC DE TRIOMPHE (1943). She also appeared in several films for Paramount Pictures, including PARIS IN SPRING (1935). A later theatrical highlight came with Terence Rattigan's PLAYBILL (1948), composed of the one-acts THE BROWNING VERSION and HARLEQUINADE, although she had a professional disappointment as Mrs. Erlynne in Noel Coward's AFTER THE BALL (1954), a poorly received version of LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN. It was Mary Ellis' last singing role. But she continued to appear in plays, giving her final stage performance in a 1970 production of MRS. WARREN' PROFESSION. A non-ghost-written autobiography, THOSE DANCING YEARS, appeared in 1982. Approaching her centenary in the 1990s, she took on a recurring role in the SHERLOCK HOLMES television series. Mary Ellis died January 30, 2003 in London, at the age of 105.
Indexes
Finding aid available in repository and on internet.
Connect to:
Occupation
Actors.
Singers.
Added Author
Beaumont, Hugh, 1908-1976.
Belasco, David, 1853-1931.
Brent, Romney, 1902-1976.
Coward, Noël, 1899-1973.
Farrar, Geraldine, 1882-1967.
Friml, Rudolf, 1879-1972.
Gershwin, George, 1898-1937.
Hammerstein, Oscar, II, 1895-1960.
Harbach, Otto, 1873-1963.
Lang, Fritz, 1890-1976.
Rattigan, Terence.
Morris, Mary, 1915-1988.
Puccini, Giacomo, 1858-1924.
Stothart, Herbert, 1885-1949.
Wolff, Albert, 1884-1970.
Wragg, Arthur, 1903-1976.
Research Call Number
*T-Mss 2003-017
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