Scope and arrangement
The John Randolph papers, dating from 1921 to 1998, reflect Randolph’s theater acting career, and to some extent, his work for television and film. The collection holds scripts, scrapbooks, clippings, correspondence, programs, and photographs. Scripts make up the bulk of the collection.
This collection holds over 100 scripts dating from the 1930s to the 1990s, the bulk of which date from the 1940s to 1970. The majority of the scripts are for theater productions that Randolph acted in, though some television and film scripts are present. In some cases the scripts are incomplete or are accompanied by clippings, rehearsal schedules, sheet music, or notes. Randolph’s annotations to the scripts provide insight into the productions' developments, such as added or omitted lines, acting and lighting cues, or other changes in character dialogue. Some of the scripts were sent to Randolph for review from colleagues, such as Emmanuel Fried’s Elegy for Stanley Gorski (1980), which also contains publicity material and correspondence from Fried. A large portion of the scripts are bound typescripts, but plays published by Samuel French Inc. and Dramatists Play Service are also present. In general, each production is represented by a single script.
The scrapbooks represent Randolph’s acting career in theater from the 1930s to the 1960s. They reflect Randolph’s personal experiences throughout the production process through handwritten descriptions accompanying photographs, clippings, ephemera, correspondence, and contracts. Randolph’s written accounts of tryouts, rehearsals, and performances for several of the plays describe script and scene changes, challenges faced by the cast, and his reactions to reviews. Photographs in the scrapbooks are sometimes labeled with detailed information, such as the act and scene documented in the photograph, or quotes from the script. Fan letters, good-luck notes, and letters regarding contract agreements are among the correspondence in the scrapbooks. Several highlights of Randolph’s career are represented, such as his first stage performance in a 1934 production of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts; his work with the Works Progress Administration's Federal Theater in Boston; his direction of the Transit Players, a theater troupe in Boston; and several Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. Randolph's written accounts of rehearsals and tryouts for Kermit Bloomgarden’s Command Decision (1947) in Princeton are particularly rich. Other productions represented through the scrapbooks include Paint Your Wagon (1951), The Visit (1958), and My Sweet Charlie (1966), among others.
Professional files in this collection, documenting Randolph’s work and interests, are arranged into two subcategories: productions and subjects. These files typically hold reviews, announcements, and programs, though a limited amount of correspondence is present. Production files are relatively limited in terms of content and generally contain clippings and programs. The Sound of Music is the best-represented production; the file holds correspondence from Randolph describing tryouts in New Haven, Connecticut in addition to clippings and reviews. Other productions include Front Page (1947), An Evening's Frost (1965), and Our Town (1969). Subjects represented in the professional files are limited, and include playwright and union activist Emanuel Fried, the Philadelphia Drama Guild, and Randolph's wife, Sarah Cunningham. Material documenting Randolph's work with the Philadelphia Drama Guild consists of reviews, press releases, and programs for productions put on at the Walnut Theater that Randolph acted in or was artistic director for during the early 1970s. Sarah Cunningham’s performance in Zulu and the Zayda (1965) is represented through clippings, programs, and telegrams sent to her on the night of the performance.
Programs and certificates are present in this collection. Programs represent stage productions that Randolph either attended or acted in, such as Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), My Fair Lady (1962), and Broadway Bound (1986). An Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences membership certificate and Randolph's high school diploma are also present.
This collection holds a limited amount of photographs. The majority of the photographs are headshots and portraits of Randolph from the 1970s. Some production photographs are present, as well as images of Randolph’s dressing room, and back stage of performances. Photographs dating from the 1930s to the 1950s can be found throughout the scrapbooks in this collection.
The collection is arranged into the following categories: Scripts, Scrapbooks, Professional Files, Programs and Certificates, and Photographs. Professional files are subdivided into productions and subjects. Professional files and scripts are arranged alphabetically by title or subject; all remaining material is arranged chronologically.