Several hundred items, comprising 0.9 linear feet in one file box. Generally minor to moderate wear. NYPL Collection JPB 06-20. Item #311324
An archive of material relating to the career of Ivan Black (1903-1979), a well-connected New York City publicist whose work brought him into contact with a wide variety of entertainers, including many prominent mid-century African American musicians and writers. Black graduated from Harvard, class of 1924, cum laude with distinction in Fine Arts, and was active as a publicist from 1939, when he left the Works Progress Administration and founded his own firm, until his retirement in the mid-1970s. Black worked primarily for nightclubs–including the famous Café Society–but his clients also included actors, musicians, arts festivals and Broadway theaters.
The breadth and depth of Black’s professional life is on display in this archive, which includes letters from notable figures including Langston Hughes and jazz pianist Hazel Scott, as well as copious publicity photographs of stars and musicians including Marlon Brando, Harry Belafonte, and Bette Davis, as well as a signed photo of silent film star Lillian Gish. The collection also includes correspondence, press releases, clippings, his address book, and more, all of which offers an illuminating picture of the business of entertainment in mid-century New York City.
HUGHES, Langston. Typed letter signed ("Langston"), 1 p, April 22, 1952, on personal stationary, to "Ivan," asking Black to book him on The Herb Sheldon Show, in reply to a letter from Black also included here
POWELL, Adam Clayton. Autograph note signed ("Adam Clayton Powell"), 1 p, March 2, 1952, on Congressional letterhead, to Black, enclosing a copy (present) "of my Universal Military Training speech which the New York papers would not handle but which the Washington papers did", 12 pp
KELLER, Helen. Typed letter signed secretarially ("Hellen Keller"), 1 p, October 25, 1950, on personal stationary, soliciting donations for the American Foundation for the Blind, with envelope and donation postcard included. "Try to imagine, if you can, the anguish and horror you would experience bowed down by the twofold weight of blindness and deafness, with no hope of emerging from an utter isolation!"
HELLMAN, Lillian. Typed letter signed ("Lillian Hellman"), 1 p, October 20, 1941, on Dinner-Forum on "Europe Today" stationary, to "Dear Friend," expressing thanks for Black’s contribution to an organization for refugees of the Spanish American War, on behalf of herself and "Mr. Hemingway"
PARKER, Dorothy. Typed letter signed ("Dorothy Parker"), 1 p, September 5, 1951, on personal stationary, to "Dear friend," soliciting donations for the Spanish Refugee Appeal
HOUSEMAN, John. Typed letter signed ("John Houseman"), 1 p, February 11, 1937, on Federal Theatre Project for New York stationary, "To whom it may concern," testifying to Black’s competence during his time employed by the WPA
SCOTT, Hazel. Autograph letter signed ("Hazel"), 1 p, undated c. 1943, on plain stationary, accompanying a letter from Maxine Block, editor of Current Biography, 2 pp, regarding a forthcoming "biographical sketch." "Please fill in those things that I have left vacant. … I am working damned hard now. Doubling. … I’m in the new Broadway Rhythm. Technicolor!"
PHOTOGRAPHS: Primarily publicity shots of entertainers, including: jazz musicians Thelonious Monk and Jimmy Witherspoon with Baroness Kathleen Annie Pannonica de Koenigswarter and "Maurice" at a benefit show in 1966 (2 copies); Marlon Brando and Harry Belafonte, with Belafonte’s wife and others; a 1949 signed photograph of actress Lillian Gish; many publicity photos of Bette Davis, including photos of her writing a check to the Red Cross in 1942; publicity photos of Claudette Colbert, Claude Rains, Mary Astor, Zero Mostel, James Cagney, John Houseman, Joan Crawford, Lena Horne, Paul Robeson, Hugh Masekela, and Miriam Makeba; and Black’s own miscellaneous personal photos.
Black’s address book, featuring names of notable figures including Adam Clayton Powell, Milton Berle (3 entries), Sam Goldwyn, John Hammond (3 entries), Ed Hall (clarintest), Leland Hayward, Eddie Heywood, Hedda Hopper, Billie Holiday, Dick Hyman, Helen Hayes, Burl Ives (3 entries), Zero & Sam Mostel (4 entries), Nicholas Ray (2 entries), Hazel Scott, Art Tatum (2 entries), Carl Van Vechten, and others
Black’s WPA Education and Experience Record and miscellaneous correspondence regarding his work at the WPA and specifically the Federal Theatre Project
Miscellaneous correspondence, clippings, and press releases connected to his work representing clients including the Café Society, Zero Mostel, and others
Photographs, press clippings, correspondence, and programs connected to the First and Second Fine Art Film Festivals held in Woodstock, NY in 1951, as well as programs and brochures for the first three years of the Woodstock Art Conference
Twelve Playbills and theater programs, for shows Black produced or attended, including “Finian’s Rainbow” (Jan. 1947), “Anna Lucasta” (Sept. 1945), and more
Pilot script “Two Private Eyes,” written by Jack Balch, “based on an idea owned and suggested by Ivan Black”
Miscellaneous correspondence, pamphlets, magazines, sheet music, etc.
Price: $3,500.00 Free International Delivery