Albert H. Woods
|Albert Herman Woods|
Al Woods in 1909
January 3, 1870
|Died||April 24, 1951
New York City
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.
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.
Woods formed an early partnership with Sam H. Harris and Paddy Sullivan, running tour companies of popular melodramas, starting with The Bowery After Dark. 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".
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.
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. The once wealthy former producer ended his life bankrupt. After a memorial service attended by many prominent theater personalities, his remains were cremated.
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
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. 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.
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." 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. 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.
Although Woods won the legal proceedings and the play was a hit, it was considered immoral by many critics. 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.
Woods produced over 140 plays on Broadway.
|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||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||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||American Theatre||August 26, 1907||Not known|
|Broadway After Dark||John Oliver||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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
- 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.
- Hischak, Thomas S. (2004). The Oxford Companion to American Theatre. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 293, 671. ISBN 0-19-516986-7.
- 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.
- "A.H. Woods Dead; Producer Was 81". The New York Times. April 25, 1951. p. 29. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
- 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.
- "Rites for A.H. Woods". The New York Times. April 27, 1951. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
- 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.
- "Mayor Cuts Off an Indecent Play". The New York Times. May 11, 1910. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
- 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.
- "Rules Demi-Virgin Coarsely Indecent". The New York Times. November 15, 1921. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- 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.
- "Woods Wins Suit Over Demi-Virgin". The New York Times. February 21, 1922. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
- "Wise Asked Woods to End 'Rank' Play". The New York Times. March 13, 1922. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
- "A. H. Woods". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
- "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.
- Heller, Anne C. (2009). Ayn Rand and the World She Made. New York: Doubleday. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-385-51399-9. OCLC 229027437.