- Breuer, Bessie, b. 1893
- Call number
- *T-Mss 2003-042
- Physical description
- (1 portfolio)
- Preferred Citation
- Bessie Breuer papers, Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library
- Billy Rose Theatre Division
- Access to materials
- Collection is open to the public. Library policy on photography and photocopying will apply. Advance notice may be required.
Bessie Breuer (1893-1975) was a journalist, novelist, short story writer and playwright whose only produced play, SUNDOWN BEACH (1948), was one of the first efforts of the Actors Studio. After an early career in journalism as reporter and editor, Breuer began publishing short stories and, in 1935, her first novel, MEMORY OF LOVE. During World War II she wrote radio scripts for the Office of War Information. After the war a health crisis compelled Breuer to go south to recover, and in Florida she met the recuperating Air Force fliers who became the central figures of her play SUNDOWN BEACH. In later years Breuer continued to write novels. She died in New York City in September 1975 at the age of 81. The Bessie Breuer papers consist of documents concerning the Broadway run of Breuer's play SUNDOWN BEACH, which opened at the Belasco Theatre on Sep. 7, 1948, and closed on the 11th after seven performances. Directed by Elia Kazan, SUNDOWN BEACH marked the first Broadway venture of the newly-formed Actors' Studio. The cast featured several young actors who went on to notable careers, including Julie Harris, Cloris Leachman, Martin Balsam, Nehemiah Persoff, and Phyllis Thaxter. The play concerned the rehabilitation of World War II fliers suffering from combat trauma. Despite some public support, the play received mostly negative reviews and closed in less than a week. Much of the Bessie Breuer collection consists of letters offering emotional support in the wake of the production's failure. Among the correspondents are writers John Dos Passos and Stark Young, as well as Julie Harris. There are also several typed pages of notes from Breuer to director Elia Kazan, apparently written during the play's rehearsal process; Kazan's replies to Breuer are pencilled in the margins.
Using the collection
LocationBilly Rose Theatre Division
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center
40 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023-7498