Don Freeman at the Theater


Don Freeman (1908-1978), First Nighters’ Intermission, 1932. Lithograph. Theater Collection TC016

Graphic Arts isn’t the only department in RBSC to collection prints. The Theater Collection added the portfolio titled Don Freeman Lithographs 1931-1938, which includes five lithographs with theatrical themes.

Don Freeman (1908-1978) financed his art education by playing trumpet in jazz clubs and then, acted in at least one Broadway production, as the cornet-playing son in William Saroyan’s The Beautiful People (a part written specifically for Freeman). During the 1930s, he drew a number of lithographs featuring scenes around the theater, both in front and behind the curtain.

In the print at the top, First Nighters’ Intermission, we can recognize many prominent New Yorkers outside a Broadway theater, including Mayor Jimmy Walker, Otto Kahn, Heywood Broun, Robert Benchley, and Clifton Webb.


Don Freeman (1908-1978), Self-Portrait, 1939. Lithograph. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2007.01302


Don Freeman (1908-1978), Dress Rehearsal, Of Thee I Sing, 1931, Lithograph. Theater Collection TC016

At the rehearsal seen above for Of Thee I Sing, we can recognize George Gershwin conducting, George S. Kaufman and Marc Connolly, producer Sam H. Harris (with his feet up), and designer Jo Meilziner on the intercom.


Don Freeman (1908-1978), On the Fly Rail, 1934. Lithograph. Theater Collection TC016


Don Freeman (1908-1978), Casting for Characters, 1934. Lithograph. Theater Collection TC016


Don Freeman (1908-1978), Mums the Word, 1938? Lithograph. Theater Collection TC016