John Golden


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(1874–1955), producer and lyricist. Born in New York, his first theatrical job was as a super at Niblo's Garden. He later entered New York University, intending to study law, but while there he produced a college play and abandoned the notion of becoming a lawyer. Golden served briefly as actor-manager for a touring company, then turned his hand to lyric writing. His major successes as a lyricist included “Goodbye Girls, I'm Through” (from the 1914 musical Chin-Chin) and “Poor Butterfly” (from The Big Show, a 1916 Hippodrome extravaganza). Royalties from these songs allowed him to produce his first play, Turn to the Right (1916). Among his many later productions were Lightnin' (1918), Three Wise Fools (1918), The First Year (1920), Seventh Heaven (1922), The Wisdom Tooth (1926), Let Us Be Gay (1929), That's Gratitude (1930), As Husbands Go (1931), Susan and God (1937), Skylark (1939), and Claudia (1941). Some measure of his acute judgment of contemporary public taste can be gauged by the fact that, at the time of Seventh Heaven's closing, Golden was on record as the producer of three of the five longest-running shows in Broadway history. For the most part his plays avoided material that might offend many playgoers. He wrote in his autobiography, “I think Mrs. Warren's Profession is a great play, but personally I prefer Turn to the Right. Given equal literary value, I should infinitely prefer a wholesome play.” In 1926 he built the John Golden Theatre but lost it in the Depression. He later purchased the more centrally located Masque Theatre and renamed it for himself. Autobiography: Stage-Struck John Golden, with Viola Brothers Shore, 1930.

From The Oxford Companion to American Theatre in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.

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