Jean Van Kirk Dalrymple (September 5, 1902 – November 15, 1998) was an American theater producer, manager, publicist, and playwright who was instrumental in the founding of New York City Center and is best known for her productions there.
Dalrymple was born in Morristown, New Jersey on September 5, 1902 to an affluent couple, George, a coal and lumberyard owner, and Elizabeth (née VanKirk) Dalrymple. Attended to by the Victorian household nurse, Jean learned to read, write and type at home. When she was 9, a short story she wrote was published by a Newark newspaper. Her schooling consisted of one year of eighth grade as high school was not encouraged. Jean finished her education upon the completion of a business course and worked as a stenographer at age 16 on Wall Street. Jean's new social circle embraced vaudeville theater. Although Jean had no aspirations for a theater career, she was asked to replace an actress and entered the vaudeville Keith-Albee-Orpheum circuit with boyfriend (future Hollywood screen writer) Dan Jarrett. After touring the United States acting and writing vaudeville sketches, she and Dan wrote "Just a Pal." For another sketch "The Woman Pays," Jean and Dan hired a handsome young man with a British accent, Archibald Leach. Having no acting experience, his current job was walking on stilts on Coney Island. He would later be known as Cary Grant. ("September Child". Cornwall NY: Cornwall Press, 1963. Library of Congress number: 63-13557) . As vaudeville lost audiences to the "talkies" (movies with sound), Jean was fortunate to be asked to write and produce a series of comedic sketches or "talkie shorts" for FitzPatrick Pictures. She cast many old friends. Having written a play of interest to theater producer John L. Golden, and wrote a play, Salt Water.
Dalrymple served on the Board of City Center, and in the 1980s, was president of the Light Opera of Manhattan. At City Center, she produced revivals of such works as Our Town; Porgy and Bess; Othello (starring Paul Robeson and Jose Ferrer); A Streetcar Named Desire (starring Uta Hagen and Anthony Quinn); Pal Joey (with Bob Fosse and Viveca Lindfors); King Lear (with Orson Welles), and many others.
Dalrymple's written works include The Quiet Room: a play in three acts (1958); September Child; the story of Jean Dalrymple (1963 autobiography); Careers and Opportunities in the Theatre (1969), and From The Last Row: A personal account of the first twenty-five years of the New York City Center of Music and Drama.
In 1932, Dalrymple married New York Sun theater critic Ward Morehouse. That marriage ended in divorce. In 1951, she married Major General Philip De Witt Ginder. She had no children and left no immediate survivors.
- "Jean Dalrymple, Persuasive Dreamer Who Brought Theater to City Center, Dies at 96", nytimes.com, November 17, 1998]
- Frank Cullen, Florence Hackman, and Donald McNeilly. Vaudeville, Old & New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America. New York: Routledge, 2007.
- From The Last Row: A personal account of the first twenty-five years of the New York City Center of Music and Drama. James T. White and Company Publishers, Clifton, New Jersey (1975).
- September Child, the story of Jean Dalrymple, autobiography by Jean Dalrymple, Dodd, Mead & Company 1963 Library of Congress #63-13557.
- Profile, WorldCat.org; retrieved September 30, 2008.
- "Jean Dalrymple Wed", New York Times, March 31, 1932.
- Obituary, Ginder, General Philip DeWitt. The New York Times. November 11, 1968
- Obituary, nydailynews.com; accessed August 16, 2015.
- Faith Stewart-Gordon. The Russian Tea Room: A Love Story. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999; p. 145