Guy Reginald Bolton (23 November 1884 – 4 September 1979)was an Anglo-American playwright and writer of musical comedies. Born in England and educated in France and the US, he trained as an architect but turned to writing. Bolton preferred working in collaboration with others, principally the English writers P. G. Wodehouse and Fred Thompson, with whom he wrote 21 and 14 shows respectively, and the American playwright George Middleton, with whom he wrote ten shows. Among his other collaborators in Britain were George Grossmith Jr., Ian Hay and Weston and Lee. In the US, he worked with George and Ira Gershwin, Kalmar and Ruby and Oscar Hammerstein II.
Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance. The story and emotional content of a musical – humor, pathos, love, anger – are communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole. Although musical theatre overlaps with other theatrical forms like opera and dance, it may be distinguished by the equal importance given to the music as compared with the dialogue, movement and other elements. Since the early 20th century, musical theatre stage works have generally been called, simply, musicals.
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was an English author and one of the most widely read humorists of the 20th century. Born in Guildford, the third son of a British magistrate based in Hong Kong, Wodehouse spent happy teenage years at Dulwich College, to which he remained devoted all his life. After leaving school, he was employed by a bank but disliked the work and turned to writing in his spare time. His early novels were mostly school stories, but he later switched to comic fiction, creating several regular characters who became familiar to the public over the years. They include the jolly gentleman of leisure Bertie Wooster and his sagacious valet Jeeves; the immaculate and loquacious Psmith; Lord Emsworth and the Blandings Castle set; the Oldest Member, with stories about golf; and Mr Mulliner, with tall tales on subjects ranging from bibulous bishops to megalomaniac movie moguls.
Frederick A. Thompson, usually credited as Fred Thompson was an English writer, best known as a librettist for about fifty British and American musical comedies in the first half of the 20th century. Among the writers with whom he collaborated were George Grossmith Jr., P. G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton and Ira Gershwin. Composers with whom he worked included Lionel Monckton, Ivor Novello and George Gershwin.
Bolton is best known for his early work on the Princess Theatre musicals during the First World War with Wodehouse and the composer Jerome Kern. These shows moved the American musical away from the traditions of European operetta to small scale, intimate productions with what the Oxford Encyclopedia of Popular Music calls, "smart and witty integrated books and lyrics, considered to be a watershed in the evolution of the American musical."Among his 50 plays and musicals, most of which were considered "frothy confections", additional hits included Primrose (1924), the Gershwins' Lady, Be Good (1925) and especially Cole Porter's Anything Goes (1935).
Jerome David Kern was an American composer of musical theatre and popular music. One of the most important American theatre composers of the early 20th century, he wrote more than 700 songs, used in over 100 stage works, including such classics as "Ol' Man River", "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man", "A Fine Romance", "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", "The Song Is You", "All the Things You Are", "The Way You Look Tonight", "Long Ago " and "Who?". He collaborated with many of the leading librettists and lyricists of his era, including George Grossmith Jr., Guy Bolton, P. G. Wodehouse, Otto Harbach, Oscar Hammerstein II, Dorothy Fields, Johnny Mercer, Ira Gershwin and E. Y. Harburg.
Operetta is a genre of light opera, light in terms both of music and subject matter.
Primrose is a musical in three acts with a book by Guy Bolton and George Grossmith Jr., lyrics by Desmond Carter and Ira Gershwin, and music by George Gershwin. It centers on a writer whose story-within-a-story forms the basis of the plot. It was written expressly for the London stage, where it ran for 255 performances in 1924 and 1925. The musical played in Australia, but it was not performed in the United States until more than half a century after it was written.
Bolton also wrote stage adaptations of novels by Henry James and Somerset Maugham, and wrote three novels on his own and a fourth in collaboration with Bernard Newman. He worked on screenplays for such films as Ambassador Bill (1931) and Easter Parade (1948), and published four novels, Flowers for the Living (with Bernard Newman, 1958), The Olympians (1961), The Enchantress (1964) and Gracious Living (1966). With Wodehouse, he wrote a joint memoir of their Broadway years, entitled Bring on the Girls! (1953).
Henry James, OM was an American-British author regarded as a key transitional figure between literary realism and literary modernism, and is considered by many to be among the greatest novelists in the English language. He was the son of Henry James Sr. and the brother of renowned philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James.
Bernard Charles Newman was a British author of over 100 books, both fiction and non-fiction. An historian, he was considered an authority on spies, but also wrote travel books and on politics. His fiction included mystery novels, science fiction and children's books.
Ambassador Bill is a 1931 American Pre-Code comedy film starring Will Rogers and Marguerite Churchill. Directed by Sam Taylor, the movie features Greta Nissen and Ray Milland.
Bolton was born in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, the elder son of an American engineer, Reginald Pelham Bolton, and his wife Kate (née Behenna).His younger brother, Jamie, died young, leaving Guy and his older sister Ivy. The family moved to the US, settling in New York City's Washington Heights. Bolton studied to be an architect, attending the Pratt Institute School of Architecture and Atelier Masqueray, New York. He also studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris.
Broxbourne is a commuter town in Hertfordshire, England, 17.1 miles (27.5 km) north-east of London, with a population of 15,303 at the 2011 Census.
Ivy May Bolton was an Anglican nun and writer. She was the daughter of Reginald Pelham Bolton and Kate Alice, and the sister of the playwright Guy Bolton.
Washington Heights is a neighborhood in the northern portion of the New York City borough of Manhattan. The area, with over 150,000 inhabitants as of 2010, is named for Fort Washington, a fortification constructed at the highest point on the island of Manhattan by Continental Army troops during the American Revolutionary War, to defend the area from the British forces. Washington Heights is bordered by Harlem to the south, along 155th Street, Inwood to the north along Dyckman Street or Hillside Avenue, the Hudson River to the west, and the Harlem River and Coogan's Bluff to the east.
Bolton made early progress in his profession, engaged by the government for special work on the rebuilding of the United States Military Academy at West Point,and helping to design the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument and the Ansonia Hotel on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City, but was drawn to writing.
The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point, Army, Army West Point, The Academy, or simply The Point, is a four-year federal service academy in West Point, New York. It was originally established as a fort that sits on strategic high ground overlooking the Hudson River with a scenic view, 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City. It is one of the five U.S. service academies.
West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in the United States. Located on the Hudson River in New York, West Point was identified by General George Washington as the most important strategic position in America during the American Revolution. Until January 1778, West Point was not occupied by the military. On January 27, 1778, Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons and his brigade crossed the ice on the Hudson River and climbed to the plain on West Point to intercept Lt. Major Roldan Kramer and from that day to the present, West Point has been occupied by the United States Army. It comprises approximately 16,000 acres (6,500 ha) including the campus of the United States Military Academy, which is commonly called "West Point".
The Ansonia is a building on the Upper West Side of New York City, located at 2109 Broadway, between West 73rd and West 74th Streets. It was originally built as a residential hotel by William Earle Dodge Stokes, the Phelps-Dodge copper heir and shareholder in the Ansonia Clock Company, and it was named for his grandfather, the industrialist Anson Greene Phelps. In 1897, Stokes commissioned French architect Paul Emile Duboy to design the grandest hotel in Manhattan.
While Bolton was still a student, his stories had been published in magazines. At the age of 26, he wrote his first stage play, The Drone, in collaboration with Douglas J. Wood.His second play, The Rule of Three (1914), was written without a partner, but the following year he embarked on his first musical theatre collaboration, Ninety in the Shade, with music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Harry B. Smith and book by Bolton, first produced at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York, on 25 January 1915. The same year, he wrote Hit-the-Trail-Holiday with George M. Cohan. That same year he collaborated with Kern and others on the musicals Nobody Home and the even more successful Very Good Eddie , the first two "Princess Theatre musicals". The latter of the two was also a hit in London.
Harry Bache Smith was a writer, lyricist and composer. The most prolific of all American stage writers, he is said to have written over 300 librettos and more than 6000 lyrics. Some of his best-known works were librettos for the composers Victor Herbert and Reginald De Koven. He also wrote the book or lyrics for several versions of the Ziegfeld Follies.
The Knickerbocker Theatre, previously known as Abbey's Theatre and Henry Abbey's Theatre, was a Broadway theatre located at 1396 Broadway in New York City. It operated from 1893 to 1930. In 1906, the theatre introduced the first moving electrical sign on Broadway to advertise its productions.
George Michael Cohan, known professionally as George M. Cohan, was an American entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer and theatrical producer.
Bolton quickly became known for his part in moving the American musical away from the European operetta tradition: "No more crown princes masquerading as butlers, no more milkmaids who turn out at the final curtain to be heir to several thrones."Nevertheless, he collaborated with one of operetta's last practitioners, Emmerich Kálmán, in an adaptation of Kálmán's 1915 piece Zsuzsi Kisassony.Miss Springtime, as the American version was called, was produced at the New Amsterdam Theatre in 1916. Bolton wrote the book; the lyrics were by Herbert Reynolds and P. G. Wodehouse, the latter writing with Bolton for the first time in what became a lifelong working partnership and personal friendship. Kern, who already knew Wodehouse, introduced him to Bolton at the premiere of Very Good Eddie. Wodehouse admired Bolton's stagecraft, but thought his lyrics weak, and at Kern's urging they decided to write jointly, Wodehouse concentrating on the lyrics and Bolton on the book.
For the Princess Theatre, Bolton and Wodehouse wrote the book and lyrics for Have a Heart (1917), Oh, Boy! (1917), which ran for 463 performances,Leave It to Jane (1917), Oh, Lady! Lady!! (1918), See You Later (1918) and Oh! My Dear (1918). They also collaborated on Miss 1917 (1917) at the Century Theatre, on Bolton's second Kálmán show, The Riviera Girl (1917), and on Kissing Time (1918), the latter two for the New Amsterdam. During these years, Bolton also wrote successful plays with George Middleton and others. But it was the Princess Theatre shows with Kern that made the most impression; some of these shows were so popular that they transferred to the larger Casino Theatre to finish their runs. An anonymous admirer wrote a verse in their praise that begins:
In February 1918, Dorothy Parker wrote in Vanity Fair
Well, Bolton and Wodehouse and Kern have done it again. Every time these three gather together, the Princess Theatre is sold out for months in advance. You can get a seat for Oh, Lady! Lady!! somewhere around the middle of August for just about the price of one on the stock exchange. If you ask me, I will look you fearlessly in the eye and tell you in low, throbbing tones that it has it over any other musical comedy in town. But then Bolton and Wodehouse and Kern are my favorite indoor sport. I like the way they go about a musical comedy. ... I like the way the action slides casually into the songs. ... I like the deft rhyming of the song that is always sung in the last act by two comedians and a comedienne. And oh, how I do like Jerome Kern's music. And all these things are even more so in Oh, Lady! Lady!! than they were in Oh, Boy!
Bolton went on to write more than fifty stage works, mainly in collaboration with others. Besides Wodehouse, his frequent writing partners were the American, George Middleton, with whom he wrote ten shows, and the Englishman, Fred Thompson, with whom he wrote fourteen. His collaborations with Middleton were non-musical comic plays, produced with success on both sides of the Atlantic. Their Polly with a Past (1917) was a success in both New York and London, where its cast included Edna Best, Noël Coward, Edith Evans, Claude Rains and C. Aubrey Smith.Their Adam and Eva was another favourite that was adapted for film and frequently revived by smaller theatres. With Thompson, he wrote the book for early musicals by George and Ira Gershwin, Lady, Be Good (1925) and Tip-Toes (1926). With the Gershwins and Wodehouse, he wrote Oh, Kay! (1926). Among his other collaborators in Britain were George Grossmith Jr., with whom he worked on Primrose (1924), Ian Hay with whom he co-wrote A Song of Sixpence (1930) and Weston and Lee, who joined him for Give Me a Ring (1933). In the US, he worked with Oscar Hammerstein II on Daffy Dill (1922), and with Kalmar and Ruby on The Ramblers (1926) and She's My Baby (1927). An occasional collaborator in later years was "Stephen Powys", a pseudonym of Bolton's third wife, Virginia. Girl Crazy (1930) was a musical, with songs by the Gershwins, starring Ginger Rogers and featuring the debut of Ethel Merman. It was later adapted by Ken Ludwig as the sensation Crazy for You .
During the 1920s and 30s "Bolton worked at a tremendous rate on shows … beautifully constructed, and full of fun and excruciating puns."When the Gershwins began to take a more serious tone, with Of Thee I Sing , Bolton persisted with his "frothy confections" for other composers. He moved to London, where he wrote (or co-wrote, generally with Thompson and sometimes also with Douglas Furber) the book for "a series of highly successful romps" starring London's leading music comedy performers such as Jack Buchanan, Leslie Henson, Bobby Howes, Evelyn Laye and Elsie Randolph, in shows including Song of the Drum (1931), Seeing Stars (1935), At the Silver Swan (1936), This'll Make You Whistle (1935; film version 1936), Swing Along (1936), Going Places (1936), Going Greek (1937), Hide and Seek (1937), The Fleet's Lit Up (1938), Running Riot (1938), Bobby Get Your Gun (1938) and Magyar Melody (1939).
Although Bolton worked mostly in the West End in the 1930s, his biggest hit of the decade began on Broadway, a collaboration with his old friend Wodehouse, who had by then largely abandoned the theatre for novel-writing. When Bolton approached him to co-write the book for Cole Porter's Anything Goes (1935), Wodehouse objected, "Cole does his own lyrics ... What pests these lyric-writing composers are! Taking the bread out of a man's mouth". Still, he agreed to join Bolton in writing the book.The show was, in the words of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Popular Music, "a smash hit" in New York and in London.
Bolton returned to the US during the Second World War to write the librettos for Walk With Music, Hold On to Your Hats , Jackpot (with several contributors) and Follow the Girls (with Eddie Davis).Bolton's screen credits include The Love Parade (1929), Ambassador Bill (1931), Waltzes from Vienna (1934), The Murder Man (1935), Angel (1937), Week-End at the Waldorf (1945), Ziegfeld Follies (1945), Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), Easter Parade (1948) and the German adaptation of his play Adorable Julia (1962). His last book for Broadway was Anya , a 1967 adaptation of Marcelle Maurette's 1952 play, and the 1956 film, Anastasia.
With Wodehouse, Bolton wrote the semi-autobiographical book Bring on the Girls! , subtitled, "The Improbable Story of Our Life in Musical Comedy" (1954). It is full of anecdotes about the larger-than-life characters who dominated Broadway between 1915 and 1930, but the biographer Frances Donaldson writes that it is to be read as entertainment rather than reliable history: "Guy, having once invented an anecdote, told it so often that it was impossible to know whether in the end he believed it or not."Other collaborations between the two writers were not acknowledged on title pages or in programmes, but were plays by one turned into novels by the other, or vice versa. Bolton's play, Come On, Jeeves centred on one of Wodehouse's best-known characters; Wodehouse later adapted the play as the novel Ring for Jeeves. Wodehouse's novels French Leave , The Small Bachelor and others were adapted from plots by Bolton.
In his later years, Bolton wrote four novels, Flowers for the Living (with Bernard Newman, 1958), The Olympians (1961), The Enchantress (1964) and Gracious Living (1966).The Times thought his later non-musical stage work notable, including adaptations of works by Somerset Maugham and Sacha Guitry, and his biographical play The Shelley Story (1947). Another of Bolton's more serious stage works was Child of Fortune (1956), an adaptation of Henry James's The Wings of the Dove .
Bolton was "a dapper ladies' man, who, having divorced his first wife, became ensnared in a succession of entanglements with chorus girls and singers."He was married four times. With his first wife, Julia, née Currey, whom he married in 1908, he had one son, Richard M. Bolton (1909–1965) and one daughter, Katherine Louisa "Joan" Bolton (1911–1967). With his second wife, opera singer Marguerite Namara, to whom he was married from 1917 to 1926, he had a daughter, Marguerite Pamela "Peggy" Bolton (1916–2003), who was his only child to outlive him. His third wife was a chorus girl, Marion Redford, whom he married in 1926. Redford had already given birth to Bolton's son, Guy Bolton Jr., known as "Guybo" (1925–1961) before his divorce from Namara. Bolton and Redford divorced in 1932. There were no children of his fourth marriage, to the playwright Virginia de Lanty. This marriage lasted from 1939 until her death in 1979.
Although born of American parents, Bolton was a British subject until 1956, when he took American citizenship.His roots were not deep in any country: like his father, he had a lifelong taste for travelling, and he settled from time to time in European towns and cities including London, but never Paris, which he loathed. His main residences were on Long Island, New York, including Great Neck (at the time of the Princess Theatre shows), and Remsenburg, where he and his wife lived in the years after the Second World War. In 1952, Wodehouse and his wife bought a house two miles away, and for the rest of Wodehouse's life, he and Bolton would go for a daily walk when the latter was not travelling abroad.
Bolton died in London in 1979, at the age of 94.
Sally is a musical comedy with music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Clifford Grey and book by Guy Bolton, with additional lyrics by Buddy De Sylva, Anne Caldwell and P. G. Wodehouse. The plot hinges on a mistaken-identity: Sally, a waif, is a dishwasher at the Alley Inn. She poses as a famous foreign ballerina and rises to fame through joining the Ziegfeld Follies. There is a rags to riches story, a ballet as a centrepiece, and a wedding as a finale. "Look for the Silver Lining" continues to be one of Kern's most familiar songs. The song is lampooned by another song, "Look for a Sky of Blue," in Rick Besoyan's satirical 1959 musical Little Mary Sunshine.
Oh, Kay! is a musical with music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and a book by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse. It is based on the play La Presidente by Maurice Hanniquin and Pierre Veber. The plot revolves around the adventures of the Duke of Durham and his sister, Lady Kay, English bootleggers in Prohibition Era America. Kay finds herself falling in love with a man who seems unavailable. The show is remembered for its enduring song, "Someone to Watch Over Me".
Félix Marie Henri Tilkin, better known by his pen name Ivan Caryll, was a Belgian composer of operettas and Edwardian musical comedies in the English language. He composed some forty musical comedies and operettas.
Rosalie is a musical with music by George Gershwin and Sigmund Romberg, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and P.G. Wodehouse, and book by William Anthony McGuire and Guy Bolton. The story tells of a princess from a faraway land who comes to America and falls in love with a West Point Lieutenant.
The Small Bachelor is a novel by P. G. Wodehouse, first published in the United Kingdom on 28 April 1927 by Methuen & Co., London, and in the United States on 17 June 1927 by George H. Doran, New York. It is based upon Wodehouse and Guy Bolton's book for the 1917 musical Oh, Lady! Lady!!
Oh, Boy! is a musical in two acts, with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse. The story concerns befuddled George, who elopes with Lou Ellen, the daughter of Judge Carter. He must win over her parents and his Quaker aunt. His dapper polo champion friend Jim is in love with madcap actress Jackie, but George must hide her while she extricates herself from a scrape with a bumbling constable whom she punched at a party raid.
The Princess Theatre was a joint venture between the Shubert Brothers, producer Ray Comstock, theatrical agent Elisabeth Marbury and actor-director Holbrook Blinn. Built on a narrow slice of land located at 104-106 West 39th Street, just off Sixth Avenue in New York City, and seating just 299 people, it was one of the smallest Broadway theatres when it opened in early 1913. The architect was William A. Swasey, who designed the Winter Garden Theatre two years earlier.
Oscar Shaw, was a stage and screen actor and singer, remembered primarily today for his role as Bob Adams in the first film starring the Marx Bros., The Cocoanuts (1929). United States census records show that Shaw was already working as a stage actor in 1910, while still living with his mother, brother, and stepfather.
George Grossmith Jr. was a British actor, theatre producer and manager, director, playwright and songwriter, best remembered for his work in and with Edwardian musical comedies. Grossmith was also an important innovator in bringing "cabaret" and "revues" to the London stage. Born in London, he took his first role on the musical stage at the age of 18 in Haste to the Wedding (1892), a West End collaboration between his famous songwriter and actor father and W. S. Gilbert.
Very Good Eddie is a musical with a book by Guy Bolton and Philip Bartholomae, music by Jerome Kern, and lyrics by Schuyler Greene, with additional lyrics by Elsie Janis, Herbert Reynolds, Harry B. Smith, John E. Hazzard, Ring Lardner Jr. and Jerome Kern, and additional music by Henry Kailimai. The story was based on the farce Over Night by Bartholomae. The farcical plot concerns three couples and a sex-crazed voice teacher who board a Hudson River Day Line boat in Poughkeepsie, New York. Chaos ensues when two of the couples cross paths and accidentally trade partners. The vaudeville-style adventure continues at a hotel, where guests pop in and out of rooms while an inebriated desk clerk tries to sort through the madness.
The Cabaret Girl is a musical comedy in three acts with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by George Grossmith, Jr. and P. G. Wodehouse. It was produced by Grossmith and J. A. E. Malone at the Winter Garden Theatre in London's West End in September 1922 and featured Dorothy Dickson, Grossmith, Geoffrey Gwyther, and Norman Griffin in the leading roles.
Oh, Lady! Lady!! is a musical with music by Jerome Kern, a book by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse and lyrics by Wodehouse. It was written for the Princess Theatre on Broadway, where it played in 1918 and ran for 219 performances. The story concerns an engaged young man, Bill, whose ex-fiancée arrives unexpectedly on his wedding day. Bill works to convince his old flame that he was not worthy to marry her, but his clumsy efforts do not make him look good to his new fiancée, whose mother already dislikes Bill. A couple of crooks cause further complications.
Leave It to Jane is a musical in two acts, with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse, based on the 1904 play The College Widow, by George Ade. The story concerns the football rivalry between Atwater College and Bingham College, and satirizes college life in a Midwestern U.S. town. A star halfback, Billy, forsakes his father's alma mater, Bingham, to play at Atwater, to be near the seductive Jane, the daughter of Atwater's president.
Miss 1917 is a musical revue with a book by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse, music by Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern and others, and lyrics by Harry B. Smith, Otto Harbach, Henry Blossom and others. Made up of a string of vignettes, the show features songs from such musicals as The Wizard of Oz, Three Twins, Babes in Toyland, Ziegfeld Follies and The Belle of New York.
Oh, My Dear! was a Broadway musical comedy in two acts with book and lyrics by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse, and music by Louis A. Hirsch. The play was produced by William Elliott and F. Ray Comstock and opened under the direction of Robert Milton and Edward Royce at the Princess Theatre on West 39th Street in New York City on November 27, 1918. Oh, My Dear! had a run of 189 performances, with the final curtain falling on May 10, 1919.
F. Ray Comstock was an American theatrical producer and theater operator. He pioneered the intimate musical comedy, staging several successful comedies at his Princess Theatre in Manhattan. He also produced spectacular musicals, variety shows and serious plays by authors such as Henrik Ibsen and Maxim Gorky.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Guy Bolton .|