Albert H. Woods

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For other people named Al Woods, see Al Woods (disambiguation).
Albert Herman Woods
Black and white portrait of Al Woods
Al Woods in 1909
Born Aladore Herman
(1870-01-03)January 3, 1870
Budapest, Hungary
Died April 24, 1951(1951-04-24) (aged 81)
New York City
Nationality American
Ethnicity Hungarian-Jewish
Occupation Theatrical producer
Years active 1903–1943

Albert Herman Woods (January 3, 1870 – April 24, 1951), born Aladore Herman, was an American theatrical producer. He produced over 140 plays on Broadway, including some of the most successful shows of the period, sometimes under the name of the production company Al Woods Ltd. or A. H. Woods. Woods also built the Eltinge Theatre, named for one of his most successful and profitable stars, Julian Eltinge.

Early life[edit]

Woods was born in Budapest, Hungary, but his family brought him to the United States as an infant. He grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. As a child he would skip school to go to theatrical shows, where he developed the goal of becoming a producer himself.[1]

Career[edit]

Woods formed an early partnership with Sam H. Harris and Paddy Sullivan, running tour companies of popular melodramas, starting with The Bowery After Dark.[1][2] His first Broadway production was The Evil That Men Do in 1903. His work on Broadway escalated after the popularity of the touring melodramas declined. Woods had a stable of favorite playwrights, most notably Owen Davis, who he worked with for several years on melodramas such as Nellie, the Beautiful Cloak Model. When Woods turned to producing regular Broadway shows, he focused on bedroom farces, starting with The Girl from Rector's in 1909.

When he became successful, Woods continued to emphasize his humble roots and was known for his folksy manner with everyone. He greeted patrons at the Eltinge as "sweetheart". Upon being introduced to King George V, Woods addressed the monarch (who was older than him) as "kid" and took the opportunity to promote one of his productions, declaring it to be "a regular show".[1][3]

Woods was at his peak in the 1920s, producing such hits as Ladies' Night (1920), The Demi-Virgin (1921), The Green Hat (1925), The Shanghai Gesture (1926), and The Trial of Mary Dugan (1927). However, he lost badly in the Wall Street crash of 1929, and never fully recovered. In the 1930s his only major hits were Five Star Final (1930) and Night of January 16th (1935). His final production, Try and Get It (1943), closed in less than a week.

Later life[edit]

Although he continued to read scripts and attempt to generate interest, he was unable to stage any productions after 1943. He died on April 24, 1951, in his residence at the Hotel Beacon in New York.[4] The once wealthy former producer ended his life bankrupt.[5] After a memorial service attended by many prominent theater personalities, his remains were cremated.[6]

Censorship battles[edit]

Woods produced a number of sex farces, which critics and local authorities often saw as pushing the boundaries of propriety. In several instances Woods encountered legal troubles as a result.

The Girl with the Whooping Cough[edit]

In April 1910, Woods began a production of The Girl with the Whooping Cough, an adaptation of a French farce that features a woman who spreads whooping cough by kissing numerous men. At the urging New York Mayor William Jay Gaynor, the New York City Police Commissioner attempted to suppress the play due to its risqué content.[7] The commissioner contacted the theater's management company and threatened that if the play was not stopped, he would refuse to renew the theater's operating license. Woods got an injunction from the New York Supreme Court that prevented the authorities from interfering with the show directly, but it did not compel them to renew the license for the theater. Left with no home for his production, Woods was forced to shut it down.[8]

The Demi-Virgin[edit]

In 1921, Woods again encountered problems with New York City censors when he produced The Demi-Virgin, a sex comedy written by Avery Hopwood that featured risque dialog and a strip poker scene. On November 3, 1921, Woods and Hopwood were called to the chambers of William McAdoo, the Chief Magistrate of the New York City's magistrates' court, to respond to complaints about the play. Woods would not make any changes to address the complaints, so McAdoo held a formal hearing and ruled that the play was obscene, describing it as "coarsely indecent, flagrantly and suggestively immoral, impure in word and action."[9][10] Woods was placed on bail, and the case was sent to the grand jury for an indictment on a misdemeanor charge of staging an obscene exhibition. The grand jury heard the case on December 23, 1921, but dismissed it that same day, even though it had heard only witnesses favoring the prosecution.[9][5][11] As the obscenity case proceeded, the city's Commissioner of Licenses threatened to revoke the theater's operating license if the production continued, but a New York state appeals court ruled that he did not have the legal authority to revoke a theater license once it had been granted.[9][11][12]

Although Woods won the legal proceedings and the play was a hit,[11] it was considered immoral by many critics.[5] Woods was personally condemned by prominent rabbi Stephen S. Wise, who said the involvement of a Jewish producer with "theatrical filth" hurt the reputation of Jews generally.[13]

Broadway productions[edit]

Woods produced over 140 plays on Broadway.[14]

Title Author Theater Opened Closed
The Evil That Men Do Theodore Kremer American Theatre August 29, 1903 Not known
The Errand Boy George Totten Smith (book);
Edward P. Moran (lyrics)
Haverly's 14th Street Theatre October 31, 1904 November 5, 1904
Tom, Dick and Harry Aaron Hoffman and Harry Williams Multiple September 25, 1905 January 20, 1906
Chinatown Charlie Owen Davis American Theatre March 5, 1906 Not known
The Gambler of the West Owen Davis American Theatre July 28, 1906 Not known
A Marked Woman Owen Davis West End Theatre December 10, 1906 Not known
Nellie, the Beautiful Cloak Model Owen Davis West End Theatre December 31, 1906 Not known
The King and Queen of Gamblers Owen Davis American Theatre July 27, 1907 Not known
A Race Across the Continent John Oliver[15] Thalia Theatre July 27, 1907 August 3, 1907
A Chorus Girl's Luck in New York Owen Davis Haverly's 14th Street Theatre August 3, 1907 Not known
Convict 999 John Oliver[15] Thalia Theatre August 5, 1907 Not known
The Great Express Robbery Owen Davis American Theatre August 12, 1907 Not known
Edna, the Pretty Typewriter John Oliver[15] American Theatre August 26, 1907 Not known
Broadway After Dark John Oliver[15] Thalia Theatre September 9, 1907 October 5, 1907
Since Nellie Went Away Owen Davis American Theatre October 28, 1907 Not known
Deadwood Dick's Last Shot Owen Davis Haverly's 14th Street Theatre December 23, 1907 Not known
The Girl from Rector's Paul M. Potter Weber's Music Hall February 1, 1909 July 1909
The Girl with the Whooping Cough Stanislaus Stange New York Theatre April 25, 1910 May 9, 1910[8]
New York William J. Hurlbut Bijou Theatre October 17, 1910 October 1910
The Girl in the Taxi Stanislaus Stange Astor Theatre October 24, 1910 December 3, 1910
The Fascinating Widow Otto Hauerbach Liberty Theatre (September–October);
Grand Opera House (November)
September 11, 1911 November 1911
Gypsy Love Harry B. Smith and Robert B. Smith Globe Theatre October 17, 1911 November 11, 1911
The Littlest Rebel Edward Peple Liberty Theatre November 14, 1911 January 1912
Modest Suzanne Harry B. Smith and Robert B. Smith Liberty Theatre January 1, 1912 January 20, 1912
Tantalizing Tommy Michael Morton and Paul Gavault (book);
Adrian Ross (lyrics)
Criterion Theatre October 1, 1912 October 26, 1912
The Woman Haters George V. Hobart Astor Theatre October 7, 1912 November 2, 1912
Potash and Perlmutter Montague Glass and Charles Klein George M. Cohan Theatre August 16, 1913 September 1915
The Yellow Ticket Michael Morton Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre January 20, 1914 June 1914
The Crinoline Girl Otto Hauerbach (book);
Julian Eltinge (lyrics)
Knickerbocker Theatre (March–May);
Standard Theatre (December)
March 16, 1914 December 1914
The High Cost of Loving Frank Mandel Theatre Republic (August);
39th Street Theatre (November)
August 25, 1914 Not known
Innocent George Broadhurst Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre September 9, 1914 December 1914
He Comes Up Smiling Byron Ongley and Emil Nyitray Liberty Theatre September 16, 1914 November 1914
Kick In Willard Mack Longacre Theatre (October);
Theatre Republic (November–March)
October 15, 1914 March 1915
Big Jim Garrity Owen Davis New York Theatre October 16, 1914 November 1914
The Song of Songs Edward Sheldon Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre December 22, 1914 June 1915
Common Clay Cleves Kinkead Theatre Republic August 26, 1915 May 1916
Cousin Lucy Charles Klein (book);
Schuyler Greene (lyrics)
George M. Cohan Theatre August 27, 1915 October 2, 1915
The Duke of Killicrankie (revivial) / Rosalind Robert Marshall / James M. Barrie Lyceum Theatre September 2, 1915 September 1915
See My Lawyer Max Marcin Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre September 2, 1915 September 1915
Abe and Mawruss Roi Cooper Megrue and Montague Glass Lyric Theatre October 21, 1915 April 1916
Cheating Cheaters Max Marcin Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre August 9, 1916 April 1917
His Bridal Night Lawrence Rising Theatre Republic August 16, 1916 October 1916
The Guilty Man Charles Klein and Ruth Helen Davis Astor Theatre August 17, 1916 October 1916
Mary's Ankle May Tully Bijou Theatre (August);
39th Street Theatre (October)
August 6, 1917 Not known
Business Before Pleasure Montague Glass and Jules Eckert Goodman Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre August 15, 1917 June 1918
Eyes of Youth Charles Guernon and Max Marcin Maxine Elliott Theatre (August 1917-July 1918);
39th Street Theatre (July–August 1918)
August 22, 1917 August 1918
The Scrap of Paper Owen Davis and Arthur Somers Roche Criterion Theatre September 17, 1917 November 1917
On With the Dance Michael Morton Theatre Republic October 29, 1917 December 1917
Parlor, Bedroom and Bath Charles William Bell and Mark Swan Theatre Republic December 24, 1917 July 1918
An American Ace Lincoln J. Carter Casino Theatre April 2, 1918 April 1918
Friendly Enemies Samuel Shipman and Aaron Hoffman Hudson Theatre July 22, 1918 August 1919
Under Orders Berte Thomas Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre August 20, 1918 January 1919
Why Worry? Montague Glass and Jules Eckert Goodman (book);
Blanche Merrill (lyrics)
Harris Theatre August 23, 1918 September 14, 1918
Where Poppies Bloom Roi Cooper Megrue Theatre Republic August 26, 1918 November 1918
The Big Chance Grant Morris and Willard Mack 48th Street Theatre October 28, 1918 February 1919
Roads of Destiny Channing Pollock Theatre Republic November 27, 1918 February 1919
The Woman in Room 13 Samuel Shipman and Max Marcin Booth Theatre January 14, 1919 June 1919
Up in Mabel's Room Wilson Collison and Otto Hauerbach Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre January 15, 1919 August 1919
A Voice in the Dark Ralph E. Dyar Theatre Republic July 28, 1919 November 1919
The Girl in the Limousine Wilson Collison and Avery Hopwood Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre October 6, 1919 February 1920
Too Many Husbands W. Somerset Maugham Booth Theatre October 8, 1919 January 1920
His Honor: Abe Potash Montague Glass and Jules Eckert Goodman Bijou Theatre October 14, 1919 April 1920
The Unknown Woman Marjorie Blaine and Willard Mack Maxine Elliott Theatre November 10, 1919 January 1920
The Sign on the Door Channing Pollock Theatre Republic December 19, 1919 May 1920
No More Blondes Otto Hauerbach Maxine Elliott Theatre January 7, 1920 February 1920
Breakfast in Bed Georges Feydeau; adapted by Willard Mack and Howard Booth Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre February 3, 1920 April 1920
The Blue Flame George V. Hobart and John Willard Shubert Theatre March 15, 1920 April 1920
The Ouija Board Crane Wilbur Bijou Theatre March 29, 1920 May 1920
Crooked Gamblers Samuel Shipman and Percival Wilde Hudson Theatre July 31, 1920 October 1920
Ladies' Night Avery Hopwood and Charlton Andrews Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre August 9, 1920 June 1921
The Lady of the Lamp Earl Carroll Theatre Republic August 17, 1920 November 1920
Happy-Go-Lucky Ian Hay Booth Theatre August 24, 1920 November 1920
The Unwritten Chapter Samuel Shipman and Victor Victor Astor Theatre October 11, 1920 November 1920
The White Villa Edith Ellis Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre February 14, 1921 March 1921
Getting Gertie's Garter Wilson Collison and Avery Hopwood Theatre Republic August 1, 1921 November 1921
Back Pay Fannie Hurst Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre August 30, 1921 November 1921
The Demi-Virgin Avery Hopwood Times Square Theatre October 18, 1921 June 3, 1922[11]
The Man's Name Marjorie Chase and Eugene Walter Theatre Republic November 14, 1921 December 1921
Lawful Larceny Samuel Shipman Theatre Republic January 2, 1922 June 1922
Partners Again Montague Glass and Jules Eckert Goodman Selwyn Theatre May 1, 1922 June 1922
East of Suez W. Somerset Maugham Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre September 21, 1922 December 1922
The Love Child Henry Bataille; adapted by Martin Brown George M. Cohan Theatre November 14, 1922 April 1923
The Masked Woman Kate Jordan Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre December 22, 1922 April 1923
The Guilty One Michael Morton and Peter Traill Selwyn Theatre March 20, 1923 April 1923
The Good Old Days Aaron Hoffman Broadhurst Theatre August 14, 1923 October 1923
The Woman on the Jury Bernard K. Burns Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre August 15, 1923 October 1923
Red Light Annie Norman Houston and Sam Forrest Morosco Theatre August 21, 1923 November 1923
The Whole Town's Talking Anita Loos and John Emerson Bijou Theatre August 29, 1923 January 1924
Casanova Lorenzo De Azertis; translated by Sidney Howard Empire Theatre September 26, 1923 December 1923
The Lady Martin Brown Empire Theatre December 4, 1923 February 1924
The Shadow Dario Niccodemi 39th Street Theatre December 18, 1923 December 1923
The Alarm Clock Avery Hopwood 39th Street Theatre December 24, 1923 January 1924
The Road Together George Middleton Frazee Theatre January 17, 1924 January 17, 1924
No Other Girl Aaron Hoffman (book);
Harry Ruby (lyrics)
Morosco Theatre August 13, 1924 September 27, 1924
High Stakes Willard Mack Hudson Theatre September 9, 1924 December 1924
Conscience Don Mullally Belmont Theatre September 11, 1924 January 1925
The Fake Frederick Lonsdale Hudson Theatre October 6, 1924 December 1924
The Desert Flower Don Mullally Longacre Theatre November 18, 1924 December 1924
The Piker Leon Gordon Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre January 15, 1925 February 1925
A Good Bad Woman (revival) William J. McNally Comedy Theatre (February);
Playhouse Theatre (June–August)
February 9, 1925 August 1925
Spring Fever Vincent Lawrence Maxine Elliott Theatre August 3, 1925 September 1925
A Kiss in a Taxi Clifford Grey Ritz Theatre August 25, 1925 October 1925
All Dressed Up Arthur Richman Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre September 9, 1925 September 1925
The Green Hat Michael Arlen Broadhurst Theatre September 15, 1925 February 1926
The Pelican F. Tennyson Jesse and H. M. Harwood Times Square Theatre September 21, 1925 November 1925
These Charming People Michael Arlen Gaiety Theatre October 6, 1925 January 1926
Stolen Fruit Dario Niccodemi; adapted by Gladys Unger Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre October 7, 1925 December 1925
The Shanghai Gesture John Colton Martin Beck Theatre (February–July);
Chanin's 46th Street Theatre (September)
February 1, 1926 September 1926
Fakir Rahman Bey Rahman Bey Selwyn Theatre May 25, 1926 June 1926
The Ghost Train Arnold Ridley Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre August 25, 1926 October 1926
Potash and Perlmutter, Detectives Montague Glass and Jules Eckert Goodman Ritz Theatre August 31, 1926 October 1926
The Woman Disputed Denison Clift Forrest Theatre September 28, 1926 March 1927
Mozart Sacha Guitry 46th Street Theatre December 27, 1926 January 1927
Crime Samuel Shipman and John B. Hymer Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre February 22, 1927 August 1927
Her Cardboard Lover Jacques Deval, adapted by Valerie Wyngate and P. G. Wodehouse Empire Theatre March 21, 1927 August 1927
The Trial of Mary Dugan Bayard Veiller National Theatre September 19, 1927 October 1927
The Matrimonial Bed Seymour Hicks Ambassador Theatre October 12, 1927 October 1927
The Mulberry Bush Edward Knoblauch Theatre Republic October 26, 1927 November 1927
The Fanatics Miles Malleson 49th Street Theatre November 7, 1927 November 1927
The Shanghai Gesture (revival) John Colton Century Theatre February 13, 1928 February 1928
Fast Life Samuel Shipman and John B. Hymer Ambassador Theatre September 26, 1928 October 1928
Jealousy Eugene Walter Maxine Elliott Theatre October 22, 1928 February 1929
Scarlet Pages Samuel Shipman and John B. Hymer Morosco Theatre September 9, 1929 November 1929
Murder on the Second Floor Frank Vosper Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre September 11, 1929 October 1929
Scotland Yard Denison Clift Sam H. Harris Theatre September 27, 1929 October 1929
Recapture Preston Sturges Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre January 29, 1930 February 1930
Love, Honor and Betray Fanny Hatton and Frederic Hatton Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre March 12, 1930 April 1930
The Ninth Guest Owen Davis Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre August 25, 1930 October 1930
A Farewell to Arms Laurence Stallings National Theatre September 22, 1930 October 1930
Five Star Final Louis Weitzenkorn Cort Theater December 30, 1930 June 1931
Mélo (revival) Henri Bernstein Maxine Elliott Theatre October 19, 1931 October 1931
The Inside Story George Bryant and Francis M. Verdi National Theatre February 22, 1932 March 1932
The Stork is Dead Hans Kottow 48th Street Theatre September 23, 1932 October 1932
Move On, Sister Daniel N. Rubin Playhouse Theatre October 24, 1933 October 1933
The Red Cat Rudolf Lothar and Hans Adler Broadhurst Theatre September 19, 1934 September 1934
Night of January 16th Ayn Rand Ambassador Theatre September 16, 1935 April 4, 1936[16]
Abide With Me Clare Boothe Brokaw Ritz Theatre November 21, 1935 December 1935
The Ragged Edge Mary Heathfield Fulton Theatre November 25, 1935 December 1935
Arrest That Woman Maxine Alton National Theatre September 18, 1936 September 1936
Censored Conrad Seiler and Max Marcin 46th Street Theatre February 26, 1938 March 1938
Nine Girls Wilfrid H. Pettitt Longacre Theatre January 13, 1943 January 16, 1943
Try and Get It Sheldon Davis Cort Theater August 2, 1943 August 7, 1943

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Kaufman, Julian M. (2003). "A. H. Woods, Producer: A Thrill a Minute, A Laugh a Second!". In Gewirtz, Arthur & Kolb, James J. (eds.). Art, Glitter, and Glitz: Mainstream Playwrights and Popular Theatre in 1920s America. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger. p. 209-210. ISBN 0-313-32467-0. OCLC 834126701. 
  2. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. (2004). The Oxford Companion to American Theatre. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 293, 671. ISBN 0-19-516986-7. 
  3. ^ Bordman, Gerald (1995). American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1914-1930. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 13. ISBN 0-19-509078-0. 
  4. ^ "A.H. Woods Dead; Producer Was 81". The New York Times. April 25, 1951. p. 29. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Kaufman, Julian M. (2003). "A. H. Woods, Producer: A Thrill a Minute, A Laugh a Second!". In Gewirtz, Arthur & Kolb, James J. (eds.). Art, Glitter, and Glitz: Mainstream Playwrights and Popular Theatre in 1920s America. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger. pp. 213–215. ISBN 0-313-32467-0. OCLC 834126701. 
  6. ^ "Rites for A.H. Woods". The New York Times. April 27, 1951. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  7. ^ Erdman, Andrew L. (2004). Blue Vaudeville: Sex, Morals and the Mass Marketing of Amusement, 1895-1915. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 118. ISBN 0-7864-1827-3. 
  8. ^ a b "Mayor Cuts Off an Indecent Play". The New York Times. May 11, 1910. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c Houchin, John H. (2003). Censorship of the American Theatre in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 78–80. ISBN 0-521-81819-2. OCLC 57309034. 
  10. ^ "Rules Demi-Virgin Coarsely Indecent". The New York Times. November 15, 1921. Retrieved October 15, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c d Wainscott, Ronald Harold (1997). The Emergence of the Modern American Theater, 1914-1929. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. p. 88. ISBN 0-300-06776-3. OCLC 35128122. 
  12. ^ "Woods Wins Suit Over Demi-Virgin". The New York Times. February 21, 1922. Retrieved October 21, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Wise Asked Woods to End 'Rank' Play". The New York Times. March 13, 1922. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  14. ^ "A. H. Woods". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b c d "John Oliver" was a pseudonym for frequent Woods collaborator Owen Davis. See Bryer, Jackson R. & Hartig, Mary C., eds. (2010). "Davis, Owen (1874-1956)". The Facts on File Companion to American Drama (second ed.). New York: Facts on File. p. 119. 
  16. ^ Heller, Anne C. (2009). Ayn Rand and the World She Made. New York: Doubleday. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-385-51399-9. OCLC 229027437. 

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