Edward Franklin Albee II

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Edward Franklin Albee
Edward F Albee 1857 1930 USA.png
Born (1857-10-08)October 8, 1857
Machias, Maine
Died March 11, 1930(1930-03-11) (aged 72)
Palm Beach, Florida
Spouse(s) Lauretta Frances Smith
Children ? Albee (?-1916)
Edward Albee (1883-1883)
Reed A. Albee (1886–1961)
Ethel Keith Albee (1890-1976)
Parents Nathaniel Smith Albee
Amanda Higgins Crocker
Relatives Edward Franklin Albee III, adoptive grandson

Edward Franklin Albee (October 8, 1857 – March 11, 1930) was a vaudeville impresario, and the adoptive grandfather of Edward Franklin Albee, the playwright.


He was born on October 8, 1857 in Machias, Maine to Nathaniel Smith Albee [1] and Amanda Higgins Crocker.

He toured with P. T. Barnum as a ticket collector, then in 1885 he partnered with Benjamin Franklin Keith in operating the Bijou Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts.[2] With the success of their business, it grew into the Keith-Albee theatre circuit of vaudeville theatres. Albee gradually took managerial control of Keith's theatrical circuit. They were the first to introduce moving pictures in the United States.[1]

In 1900 Pat Shea of Buffalo proposed to Keith and Albee that they should set up a shared booking arrangement for vaudeville similar to the Theatrical Syndicate. They called a meeting in May 1900 in Boston of most of the major vaudeville managers, including Weber & Fields, Tony Pastor, Hyde & Behman of Brooklyn, Kohl & Castle, Colonel J.D. Hopkins, and Meyerfield & Beck of the Orpheum Circuit of the western USA.[3] They did not invite Frederick Freeman Proctor, Keith's main competitor, but the other managers objected to this and insisted on a meeting in New York where Proctor was invited. The Vaudeville Managers Association (VMA) was founded at the New York meeting. Keith and Albee dominated the new organization.[3] Albee was president of the VMA's United Bookings Office from its formation in 1906. Albee had most of the major vaudeville circuits give him control of their theatrical bookings where he charged acts a 5% commission.

When performers tried to form a union, he set up National Vaudeville Artists and made membership in it a requirement for booking through his company. His partner Keith died in Palm Beach, Florida in 1914.[4]

He formed the Keith-Albee-Orpheum on January 28, 1928 with Joseph P. Kennedy. Radio Corporation of America bought his company and formed RKO Pictures and turned the Orpheum vaudeville circuit into a chain of movie theaters.[2]

Albee died on March 11, 1930 at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.[1][2] He was buried at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla N.Y.[5]


The United Bookings Office had such an all-powerful control on vaudevillians' careers that Groucho Marx referred to it as "Albee's personal Gestapo".

When a friend asked comedian Joe Frisco to explain all the street construction that was going on around them, Frisco replied, "Albee's kid lost his ball, so they're tearing up the street to find it."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "E. F. Albee Dies At Palm Beach. Retired Head of B.F. Keith Vaudeville Circuit Heart Disease Victim. Controlled 700 Theatres. 15,000 Performers Under Management of His Company, Largest in the World. Called a Great Organizer. A Native of Maine. Introduced the "Mikado." First Theatre in Boston. The Big Vaudeville Merger". New York Times. March 12, 1930. Retrieved 2011-04-14. Edward F. Albee, who became associated with the late B.F. Keith in the vaudeville business forty-five years ago, died here suddenly tonight in his room at the Breakers Hotel from ... 
  2. ^ a b c "Died". Time magazine. March 24, 1930. Edward Franklin Albee, 73, Manhattan theatrical manager; at Palm Beach; of angina pectoris. As a boy he ran away from his native Machias, Maine, to join a wagon show. Working for the late, great Phineas Taylor ("P. T.") Barnum. he met Benjamin Franklin Keith. Together they built theatres, organized a vaudeville circuit which ultimately became $67.000,000 Keith-Albee-Orpheum, bought by Radio Corp. two years ago. 
  3. ^ a b Stewart, D. Travis (2006-10-31). No Applause--Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous. Faber & Faber. p. 122-124-5. ISBN 978-1-4299-3041-3. Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  4. ^ "B.F. Keith Dies at Palm Beach. Vaudeville Manager Stricken on 25th Anniversary of Opening of His Boston Theatre". New York Times. March 26, 1914. Retrieved 2008-04-05. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the opening of his Boston house, which was being celebrated today in that city, B.F. Keith, owner of the theatre circuit bearing his name, dropped dead at midnight tonight in the Breakers Hotel, where he was stopping with his wife and Paul Keith, his son. ... 
  5. ^ http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=albee&GSfn=edward&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=52907906&df=all&