Producing Managers' Association
The Producing Managers' Association (PMA) was an organization of theatrical managers established in 1919. Formed in an effort to reduce conflicts between producers and theater managers and share common interests, it became the main vehicle for negotiation with the Actors' Equity Association (AEA) during the 1919 actors' strike.
By 1919 the former Theatrical Syndicate had dissolved and the theater producers were in disarray, competing among each other and poaching stars while facing common problems of censorship, taxation and ticket speculation. John Golden first floated the idea of a producer's organization to a group who were vacationing in Palm Beach, Florida. He wanted to set up a forum so the producers could share ideas, and wanted stop the rival organizations poaching each other's stars. Golden organized a lunch at the Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, attended by about forty managers. Attendees included Golden's fellow producers Fred Zimmerman, Archibald Selwyn, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., Winchell Smith and L. Lawrence Weber. The PMA was launched by unanimous agreement.
Given the temperaments of the producers, meetings were often stormy. At one session David Belasco banged so hard on the table that he split his hand and needed medical aid. On 2 May 1919 Charles Coburn, a former actor and now a manager, invited members of Equity to meet the managers for lunch at the Claridge. The mood of the lunch meeting quickly turned to anger, with the managers adamant that they would not let Equity establish a closed shop. Over the summer the AEA came under increasing pressure to make a deal with the managers from actors who had no other guarantee of employment. However, the strike was launched in August 1919, closing selective shows. After a month, after 37 productions had been closed and 16 openings had been stopped, the strike was settled on 6 September 1919. The managers signed a five-year contract in which they recognized Equity and promised better conditions.