Paul Gerard Smith: Broadway and Screen Writer Extraordinaire by David Soren

Paul Gerard Smith’s materials include correspondence between his grandson, Paul Gerard Smith III, and Frank Cullen (American Vaudeville Museum), and drafts of his biography by Paul Gerard Smith III and Frank Cullen. Also included are a chronology, “Adventures in Show Business”; performer and sketch indexes; and a list of credits compiled by Paul Gerard Smith. There are photocopies of typewritten scripts with handwritten notations from the early 1920s and 1930s. . An album of clippings includes his pre-vaudeville years, beginning in 1918 when he enlisted in the Marines, and mentions his service in Germany where he produced the Sixth Marine Revue for fellow “doughboys” in 1919. Most of the clippings are from the 1920s and 1930s, with the source not generally given; some playbills are included.

Paul Gerard Smith was born in Omaha, Nebraska on September 14, 1894 and died April 4, 1968 in San Diego, California. He had a childhood fascination for show business and had begun writing and producing local musical revues at the age of 10. He moved to Chicago, where he met and married Mary Alice Lundgren (ca. 1898 – April 1968) in 1919. Sometime after 1919 he moved to New York City wherhttp://library.emerson.edu/emflix/Pics/General.jpge he began writing for vaudeville acts, including the Ziegfeld Follies (1924-1925).

From 1920 to 1927 Paul Gerard Smith, Inc. also produced and booked over 100 vaudeville acts. He moved to California around 1927, at the request of Buster Keaton, to work on adapting his films “The General” and “The Battling Butler”. Over the years he wrote or contributed to over 90 film scripts as well as USO shows for Hollywood stars, special material for entertainers and even early television shows such as Gay Nineties in 1949, hosted by then octogenarian Joe Howard, whose grandson has also left Howard’s lifetime memorabilia collection and scrapbooks to our University of Arizona collection.
Smith was also responsible for scripts for early talkies of the daredevil silent film star Harold Lloyd, including Welcome Danger and Feet First. Eventually he became known as someone who could crank out a full-blown script in short order and as such was constantly employed by Universal Studios, Fox, Paramount, RKO Radio, Warner Brothers and Hal Roach to turn out quicky B movies.

Among his works was the screen adaptation of the Rodgers and Hart Broadway musical The Boys from Syracuse starring celebrated tenor Allan Jones and slapstick comedienne Martha Raye, for Universal Pictures. His screenplay for 20th Century Fox’s Ladies in Love in 1936 helped to launch Loretta Young from B-films to megastar, paired with Tyrone Power.

Much of his film work was also as a “script doctor” – he would fix scripts quickly and not necessarily receive crhttps://twitter.com/libbyholmans/status/480642219968581632 edit for his work. He served in the Marines during World War I and in the USO during World War II, and wrote various scripts for plays and revues in the postwar years including the Sixth Marine Revue in the Rhine Occupation Area.

Paul Gerard Smith was also a major force on Broadway, having written the book and directed the musical revue Keep Cool in 1924 with singers Hazel Dawn and vaudevillian Charlie King. He wrote the book for Padlocks of 1927 which starred the notorious Texas Guinan, famous for her flamboyant personality and running an alleged speakeasy during Prohibition. The term Padlocks referred to a speakeasy! Most famously, Smith wrote the book for the legendary Broadway show Funny Face, starring Fred Astaire and his then more famous sister Adele and featuring classic music by George and Ira Gershwin.

Paul Gerard Smith was born in Omaha, Nebraska on September 14, 1894 and died April 4, 1968 in San Diego, California. He had a childhood fascination for show business and had begun writing and producing local musical revues at the age of 10. He moved to Chicago, where he met and married Mary Alice Lundgren (ca. 1898 – April 1968) in 1919. Sometime after 1919 he moved to New York City where he began writing for vaudeville acts, including the Ziegfeld Follies (1924-1925).

From 1920 to 1927 Paul Gerard Smith, Inc. also produced and booked over 100 vaudeville acts. He moved to California around 1927, at the request of Buster Keaton, to work on adapting his films “The General” and “The Battling Butler”. Over the years he wrote or contributed to over 90 film scripts as well as USO shows for Hollywood stars, special material for entertainers and even early television shows such as Gay Nineties in 1949, hosted by then octogenarian Joe Howard, whose grandson has also left Howard’s lifetime memorabilia collection and scrapbooks to our University of Arizona collection.

Smith was also responsible for scripts for early talkies of the daredevil silent film star Harold Lloyd, including Welcome Danger and Feet First. Eventually he became known as someone who could crank out a full-blown script in short order and as such was constantly employed by Universal Studios, Fox, Paramount, RKO Radio, Warner Brothers and Hal Roach to turn out quicky B movies.

Among his works was the screen adaptation of the Rodgers and Hart Broadway musical The Boys from Syracuse starring celebrated tenor Allan Jones and slapstick comedienne Martha Raye, for Universal Pictures. His screenplay for 20th Century Fox’s Ladies in Love in 1936 helped to launch Loretta Young from B-films to megastar, paired with Tyrone Power.

Much of his film work was also as a “script doctor” – he would fix scriptshttp://www.playbill.com/production/earl-carrolls-vanities-of-1928-earl-carroll-theatre-vault-0000003850 quickly and not necessarily receive credit for his work. He served in the Marines during World War I and in the USO during World War II, and wrote various scripts for plays and revues in the postwar years including the Sixth Marine Revue in the Rhine Occupation Area.

Paul Gerard Smith was also a major force on Broadway, having written the book and directed the musical revue Keep Cool in 1924 with singers Hazel Dawn and vaudevillian Charlie King. He wrote the book for Padlocks of 1927 which starred the notorious Texas Guinan, famous for her flamboyant personality and running an alleged speakeasy during Prohibition. The term Padlocks referred to a speakeasy! Most famously, Smith wrote the book for the legendary Broadway show Funny Face, starring Fred Astaire and his then more famous sister Adele and featuring classic music by George and Ira Gershwin.

Among his other extraordinary Broadway accomplishments was the book for showman Earl Carroll’s Vanities of 1928, which featured W. C. Fields and the great eccentric dancer Joe Frisco. There was also Murray Anderson’s Almanc in 1929. John Murray Anderson was the Canadian genius who helped to make the movie musical more cinematic by innovating production numbers solely for screen in his 1930 film King of Jazz. On the Broadway stage he was a famous pioneer and innovator too. Here Smith wrote for former vaudeville veterans such as Jimmie Savo, Trixie Friganza and Roy Atwell.

Despite being totally forgotten today, Paul Gerard Smith was a staple of American entertainment who was influential in radio, television, Broadway, film, USO and special celebrity material. He was one of the core figures and artisans whose work defined American popular entertainment.


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63 1 Correspondence between Paul Gerard Smith III and Frank Cullen, 2000-2001

63 2 “Adventures in Show Business” – chronology, 1918- ca. 1950s

63 3 Biographical drafts

Drafts by Paul Gerard Smith III, ca. 2000 (2 versions)

Draft by Paul Gerard Smith III and Frank Cullen, ca. 2000

63 4 Indexes

Vaudeville Performer Index

Vaudeville Sketch Index

Vaudeville Acts/Sketches Produced But Not in Files

63 5 Papers, miscellaneous

Friars Club program in form of menu, “Paul & Joe’s Table d’hote Frolic”, cooked up by Friar Joe Laurie, Jr., and Friar Paul Gerard Smith, Nov. 28th, 1926

Full-page ad by Paul Gerard Smith, Variety, 1921 (in 2 pieces)

Photocopies:

Full-page ads (2) by Paul Gerard Smith, Variety, 1921

“Your Broadway and Mine” column by Walter Winchell, text contributed by Paul Gerard Smith, New York Evening Graphic, July 15, 1927

“Odyssey of a literary vagabond” by David Arlen, Script (?), ca. 1936-37, pp. 39-42 (photocopy)

“A thumbnose sketch – Paul G. Smith” by Joe Laurie, Jr., unidentified newspaper, Nov. 26, 1947

“Famed author recalls years with Broadway greats for Hemet group” by Bea Gaines, The Hemet News (Calif.), ca. 1960

63 6 Photographs of Paul Gerard Smith, (digital copies and photocopies), ca. 1920s-1930s

63 7 Stage and Pictures Credits, 1923-1940s (2 versions, compiled ), 1946-ca. 1947

63 8 Typescripts

“Comedy Writer”, undated (poem)

“The Unknown Sucker”, undated (poem)

“The Suspense Is Terrible”, ca. 1922

“Beautiful – But Dumb”: A Skit for Eight Women, 1923

“Beautiful But Dumb” (New Version), ca. 1923

“Clark & McCullough in Le Grande Cafe”, ca. 1936

“The Yellow Peril”, 1926

“Curtain Call”, ca. 1938

Untitled, ca. 1950-1951

“Hero”, undated (film script)

63 9 Clippings (reference photocopies)

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64 Clippings album, (rehoused ca. 2000), ca. 1918-1932

Name: Smith
Topics: Writers