Scope and arrangement
The Al Hirschfeld papers date from 1905 to 2006 (bulk dates: 1940s-2006) and offer an abundance of photographs documenting twentieth-century theatre. The photographs include head shots of lead actresses and actors and thousands of still images of over 800 performances; occasionally rehearsals are depicted. Hirschfeld received these photographs in advance of his attendance at the productions. The bulk of the photographs are from the 1960s through the 1990s and are 8" x 10" black and white prints. Many of these reference photographs are credited to Martha Swope, Vandamm Studio, Friedman-Abeles, and Eileen Darby.
Smaller groupings of photographs depict public figures, musicians, and other celebrities; specific films and television programs; and miscellaneous subjects such as animals and ice skating. The photographs have been arranged by title of the production, film or program; or name of the person with boxes of unidentified productions appearing at the end of each list.
The remainder of the collection is primarily correspondence pertaining to professional matters (book projects, exhibitions, events, and rights requests); letters exchanged with friends and contemporaries (such as Jerry Stiller, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, and Milton Caniff); and fan mail (including drawings from children).
A small portion of the Al Hirschfeld papers documents Hirschfeld's second wife, actress Dolly Haas, to whom he was married from 1943 until her death in 1994. Included are box office receipts for her appearances in the 1946 musical Lute Song, interview transcripts, and correspondence. Personal correspondence exchanged among Haas, Hirschfield, and their daughter is restricted.
The later years of Hirschfeld's career and posthumous matters are represented by a set of chronological files maintained by Louise Hirschfeld from the 1990s through 2006. The 1996 documentary The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story and the 2005 "Brits on Broadway" exhibit at London's Theatre Museum are well documented in these files.
The collection also contains three sketchbooks, photographs of Hirschfeld, records regarding Hirschfeld's musical collaboration with S.J. Perelman, Sweet Bye and Bye, and a small selection of artifacts.