Mike Ellis Bucks County Playhouse collection
Held at: James A. Michener Art Museum Archives [Contact Us]138 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA, 18901
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the James A. Michener Art Museum Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Mike Ellis (1917-2008) owned and operated the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania, from 1954 to 1964. Ellis was a dynamic producer and during his tenure the Bucks County Playhouse was considered one of the most significant summer stock theaters on the East Coast in the United States. Ellis helped launch the careers of several noted actors and playwrights. The Bucks County Playhouse opened in 1939 in New Hope, Pennsylvania and was in continuous operation until 2010. It re-opened in 2012 and remains in operation as of 2016.
Born Mayer Ellis Abrahamson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1917, Mike Ellis was a professional magician, Broadway producer, stage manager, and an actor. Ellis was raised in Wilkes-Barre, PA and received a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College in 1939 and a Masters of Arts from Drew University in 1973. He studied at the University of Grenoble in Grenoble, Switzerland, and at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, in 1937 and 1938 and received certificates from both institutions. Mr. Ellis served three years in the U.S. Army from which he received an honorable discharge in 1946. He owned and operated the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania from 1954 to 1964. In his first season, he scheduled twenty-one plays of which eight were world premieres. He produced a total of 45 world premieres while at the Playhouse, perhaps the most notable of which was Neil Simon's 1963 play Nobody Loves Me, starring Elizabeth Ashley and Robert Redford, which became the Broadway hit Barefoot in the Park (1963) and S. J. Perelman's The Beauty Part (1961). In 1960 Ellis premiered Neil Simon's first play Come Blow Your Horn, which became a Broadway hit in 1961. Ellis is particularly well remembered for having brought many famous, or later to become famous, actors to the Bucks County Playhouse including Alan Alda, Liza Minelli, Robert Redford, Dick Van Dyke, Walter Mathau, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., George C. Scott, Bea Arthur, and Merv Griffith.
"Mike Ellis, 90; service Oct. 23." Carteret County News Times (Morehead City, NC), October 8, 2008. Accessed September 13, 2016. http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/obituaries/article_ac4e3bc3-f280-58a9-9dea-e4aa342e35a6.html.
Mike Ellis Bucks County Playhouse collection, 1954-1970, consists of photographs, playhouse programs, correspondence, magazines, newspaper clippings, oversized posters from productions at the Playhouse, and other materials.
Photographs include publicity shots of Ellis and the Playhouse, as well as photographs from various productions. There are also photographs of the Playhouse and the community of New Hope from the 1955 Delaware River flood (considered one of the worst floods in the history of the Delaware Valley).
There are bound volumes of Bucks County Playhouse programs and loose programs.
Published materials include seven issues of the New Hope Gazette, August/September 1953; one issue of the Bucks County Traveler, May 1954; W. Elmer Schofield (Moravian College) by Valerie Livingston; American Impression: The New Hope Circle by Sam Hunter (The Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, FL); and B. J. O. Nordfeldt: An American Expressionist by Sam Hunter (Richard Stuart Gallery).
A more detailed finding aid, biographical note, or inventory for this collection may be available on-site or on the Michener Archives finding aid page: http://www.michenerartmuseum.org/collections-research/archives/finding-aids/.
Gifted to the James A. Michener Art Museum Archives by Mike Ellis in December 2005.
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.
In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact James A. Michener Art Museum Archives directly for more information.
- James A. Michener Art Museum Archives
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories using information provided by the James A. Michener Art Museum Archives
- This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Access Restrictions
Contact James A. Michener Art Museum Archives for information about accessing this collection.