Julian P. Mitchell
Julian P. Mitchell (1854, New York City- 24 June 1926, Long Branch, New Jersey) was Broadway's most prolific stage director, directing and co-producing shows between 1884 and 1926. His best remembered show may be The Wizard of Oz (1902).
Julian was the son of the New York City actress Maggie Mitchell (1832-1918). Julian acted in his mother's company from 1879 to 1882. His education in directing came from Charles Hale Hoyt, for whom he began as a character actor and became a director in 1884. From around the turn of the century he directed and choreographed Weber and Fields shows. In the 1902 Wizard of Oz it is was his idea to summon the North Wind to destroy the poppies in The Wizard of Oz (which were not destroyed in the novel). Other productions he directed include Babes in Toyland, Franz Lehár's Eva, Oh! Oh! Delphine, Ziegfeld Follies of 1912, Ziegfeld Follies of 1925, The Blue Kitten at the Selwyn Theatre, and the ensembles of Our Nell at the Bayes Theatre.
By the time Mitchell was working with Ziegfeld, he was completely deaf and unable to read music. His methodology was to memorize the lyrics and understand the vibrations of the sounds by standing as close to the piano as possible. He had also never danced when Weber and Fields hired him to be their director. He was noted for making improvements to numbers without the request of his producer.
Mitchell was married to Weber & Fields dancer Bessie Clayton, and they had a daughter named Priscilla. His working class appearance was frequently cited by journalists. Apart from his livelihood, he was interested only in serious literature, such as Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray.
- Stanley Green, Mitchell, Julian in the Encyclopedia Of The Musical Theatre, Da Capro Press, Bew York, 1976, pp. 288-289
- Notable American Women 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume 2; copyright 1971, pgs. 551-552; by Edward T. James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S. Boyer
- Rennold Wolf. "The Little Father of the Chorus Girl." The Green Book Magazine c. 1925, pp. 281-291.