The Lambs, Inc., (aka The Lambs Club) is a social club in New York City for actors, songwriters, and others involved in the theater. It is one of America's oldest theatrical organizations.
In 1868, The Lambs was founded in London by actors, led by John Hare, the first Shepherd, looking to socialize with like-minded people. Several of those, most notably Henry James Montague, came to the United States and formed The Lambs of New York during Christmas week of 1874. It was incorporated in 1877 in New York City. Shortly afterward, the London Lambs closed.
The Lambs, the New York Friars' Club, and The Players in New York are often confused. In 1964, the long-time syndicated columnist Earl Wilson put it this way: "Long ago a New Yorker asked the difference between the Lambs, Friars, and Players, since the membership was, at the time, predominantly from Broadway." It was left to "a wit believed to have been George S. Kaufman" to draw the distinction: "The Players are gentlemen trying to be actors, the Lambs are actors trying to be gentlemen, and the Friars are neither trying to be both."
The Lambs ® is a registered trademark of The Lambs, Inc; and the club has been commonly referred to as The Lambs Club and The Lambs Theater since 1874.
The president of The Lambs is called "The Shepherd." A club tradition warranted Shepherd's to have portraits created, and the Club displays all the portraits of its presidents by such artists as James Montgomery Flagg and Everett Raymond Kinstler.
The list of Shepherds are:
- Henry J. Montague (1874-1878)
- J. Lester Wallack (1878-1879, 1880-1882, 1884-1888)
- Harry Beckett (1879-1880)
- William J. Florence (1882-1884)
- John R. Brady (1888-1890)
- Edmund M. Holland (1890-1891)
- Clay M. Greene (1891-1898, 1902-1906)
- Thomas B. Clarke (1898-1900)
- DeWolf Hopper (1900-1902)
- Wilton Lackaye (1906–07)
- Augustus Thomas (1907-1910)
- Joseph R. Grismer (1911–13, 1917–18)
- William Courtleigh (1913-1917)
- R. H. Burnside (1918-1921)
- Albert O. Brown (1921-1924, 1930-1932)
- Thomas Meighan (1924-1926)
- Thomas Wise (1926-1928)
- Fritz Williams (1928-1930)
- Frank Crumit (1932-1936)
- Fred Waring (1939-1942)
- John Golden (1942-1945)
- Raymond Peck (1945-1947)
- Bert Lytell (1947-1952)
- Walter N. Greaza (1953-1956)
- William Gaxton (1936-1939, 1952-1953, 1957-1959, 1960-1961)
- Frank M. Thomas (1962-1963)
- Martin Begley (1964-1965)
- Harry Hershfeld (1966-1969)
- Jack Waldron (1969)
- Tom Dillon (1969-1986)
- Richard L. Charles (1986-1997)
- A. J. Pocock (1998-2001)
- Bruce Brown (2002-2008)
- Randy Phillips (2008-2013)
- Marc Baron (2013- )
PAST CLUBHOUSES (All in Manhattan)
- 1874 - Founded and first dinner at Delmonico's Restaurant (NE Corner of 5th Ave & 14th St.)
- 1875 - Morton House (Union Square)
- 1875 - Union Square Hotel
- 1876 - Wallack's theater, 848 Broadway (nicknamed "The Matchbox")
- 1877-78 - 6 Union Square
- 1878 - 19 East 16th Street
- 1880-1892 - 34 W 26th St
- 1891 - Gilsey House, 1200 Broadway
- 1892 - 8 West 29th St
- 1893-1896 - 26 West 31st St
- 1897-1905 - 70 W 36th St (Formerly and thereafter known as Keen's Chophouse)
- 1905-1975 - 130 W 44th Street (expanded in 1907)
- 1975 - Guest in The Lotos Club, 5 East 66th St
- 1976 - Current - 3 West Club, 3 West 51st Street, 5th Floor
128 West 44th Street
|Location||128 W. 44th St., New York, New York|
|Area||less than one acre|
|Architect||Stanford White, George Freeman|
|Architectural style||Classical Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||82003382|
|Added to NRHP||June 3, 1982|
The Lambs has had many Manhattan homes since 1874, beginning with Delmonico's Restaurant in Union Square, then in 1875 they met at the Maison Doree on the south side of 14th Street opposite Union Square; 1876-77 next to Wallack's theater at 848 Broadway; 1877-1878 at the Union Square Hotel, 6 Union Square; 1879 within a brownstone at 19 East 16th St.; 1880-1891 at a Brownstone at 34 West 26th St.; 1891 at the Gilsey House, 1200 Broadway; 1892 at 8 West 29th St.; 1893-1896 at 26 West 31st St.; 1897-1905 at 70 West 36th, what was formerly and thereafter Keen's Chophouse (remodeled by Sanford White to be a clubhouse). In 1905 at 128-130 West 44th Street, in a house designed by Stanford White, then doubled in size in 1915.
Until 1974 the Club remained at the building at 128 West 44th Street. The building was designed by architect Stanford White, and was erected in 1904–1905, the expanded in 1915 to include 132 West 44th Street. When the club relocated to its current nine-story quarters at 3 West 51st Street adjacent to Rockefeller Center, it sold its own quarters to the Church of the Nazarene which intended to use the old building as a mission in Time Square. The church leased part of the building for what would become the Off Broadway Lamb's Theatre which is not related to the Club except for the name of the building.
In 2006 the Church of the Nazarene sold the building and theatre, which has been renovated by the Chatwal Hotel. They operate a restaurant in the hotel and named it The Lambs Club although there is no relation between the hotel and The Lambs other than what was left of the building.
The Lambs, Inc. is still active in its nine-story quarters at 3 West 51st Street adjacent to Rockefeller Center. Its members have been instrumental in the formation of ASCAP, Actors' Equity and The Actors' Fund of America and Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Of the first 21 Council members of Actor's Equity, 20 were members of The Lambs. Historically, The Lambs® has been the spawning ground of plays, friendships and partnerships. "Mark Twain Tonight" (with Hal Holbrook) and Stalag 17 were first performed at The Lambs prior to their national successes.
Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe first met at The Lambs, often trying works-in-progress on their fellow Lambs. Loewe left a percentage of his share of BRIGADOON royalties to The Lambs' Foundation. Since its founding, there have been more than 6,000 Lambs including Spencer Tracy, Fred Astaire, Irving Berlin, George M. Cohan, W.C. Fields, Will Rogers, John Philip Sousa, Fred Waring and Albert Hague, and Cliff Robertson. Current luminaries include the Academy Award winning actor James Karen, Abe Vigoda, Joyce Randolph, and the award-winning conductor/arranger, Donald Pippin (b. 1930). The Lambs' web site contains a listing of its past members.
- Hardee, Lewis J., Jr., The Lambs Theatre Club, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishing, 2010 . ISBN 978-0-7864-6095-3. A book about the history of The Club. The Lambs was recognized on May 9, 2008, by the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg.(publisher's summary)
- Wilson, Earl (1964). Earl Wilson’s New York. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 49–50.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- Robertson, Campbell, "Lamb's Theater Company Receives Eviction Notice", The New York Times, June 2, 2006
- Sam Sifton, "Retro Glamour Made New: Restaurant Review: The Lambs Club". New York Times. October 26, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/27/dining/reviews/27rest.html Accessed January 31, 2012
- The Lambs, Inc. website
- "The Lambs Club" - the NYC Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
- Lambs Club records, 1880-1973, held by the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts