Henry B. Harris

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Henry B. Harris
Producer Henry B. Harris.jpg
Henry Birkhardt Harris

(1866-12-01)December 1, 1866
DiedApril 15, 1912(1912-04-15) (aged 45)
Occupationtheatrical producer
Years active1901–1912
Spouse(s) Renee Harris
(married 1898–1912)
Parent(s) William Harris, Sr.
Rachel Freefield
Relatives William Harris Jr. (brother)

Henry Birkhardt Harris (December 1, 1866 – April 15, 1912) was a Broadway producer and theatre owner who died in the sinking of RMS Titanic. His wife was actress Renee Harris, who was injured in a fall on the Grand Staircase of Titanic. She survived the sinking and lived until 1969.

RMS <i>Titanic</i> British transatlantic passenger liner, launched and foundered in 1912

RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912, after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. Of the estimated 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, more than 1,500 died, making it one of modern history's deadliest commercial marine disasters during peacetime. RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat at the time she entered service and was the second of three Olympic-class ocean liners operated by the White Star Line. She was built by the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Thomas Andrews, chief naval architect of the shipyard at the time, died in the disaster.

Renee Harris (producer)

Irene Wallach Harris, better known as Renee Harris was the first female theatrical manager and producer in the United States. Harris was interested in the theater, but had no experience with it other than as a patron. While attending a matinée, she met her husband, the noted theatrical manager and producer Henry B. Harris. The two had a whirlwind courtship, with Harris assisting her husband in his work even before the marriage. Through their work together, Harris learned about both theater management and theatrical production. Her husband said that she was competent enough to take over his business if anything happened to him.

Grand Staircase of the RMS <i>Titanic</i>

The set of large ornate staircases in the first-class section of the RMS Titanic, sometimes collectively referred to as the Grand Staircase, is one of the most recognisable features of the British transatlantic ocean liner which sank on her maiden voyage in 1912 after a collision with an iceberg. Reflecting and reinforcing the staircase's iconic status is its frequent, and prominent, portrayal in media.



Harris was the son of William Harris Sr., a founder of the Theatrical Syndicate in the 1890s and Rachel Harris (née) Freefield. [1] [2] He had a younger brother, William Harris Jr. [3] Harris was born in St. Louis in 1866 and was a young boy when the family moved to Boston. [4] [5] He began his career selling song books in the theater lobby as a young man in St. Louis. When the family moved to Boston, young Harris began selling song books in the lobby of the Howard Athenaeum. [5] He married Irene Wallach, a legal secretary from Washington, D. C. with an interest in the theater on October 22, 1899. [6] [7] [8] [lower-alpha 1]

William Harris (theatrical producer) Prussian-born American theatre producer and vaudevillian performer

William Harris was a prominent American theatrical producer who owned or held a large interest in some 50 theatres in New York City, Boston and Chicago. He was considered the dean of theatrical managers. His children included Henry B. Harris and William Harris Jr., both theatrical producers.

The Theatrical Syndicate was an organization that controlled the booking of the top theatrical attractions in the United States, starting in 1896. The organization was composed of six men, each of whom controlled theatres and bookings.

William Harris Jr. Broadway play producer

William Harris Jr. (1884–1946) was a well-known Broadway theatrical producer.

Harris worked for his father in the theatrical business in Boston for a number of years before starting out on his own producing plays in 1901. [11] He managed such stars as Amelia Bingham and Robert Edeson. [7] In 1906, Harris became the owner of the Hackett Theatre on 42nd Street. [4] The theater was later renamed the Harris Theatre, to honor William Harris Sr. [12] He leased and managed the Hudson Theatre in New York [4] and in 1911 built the Folies Bergère Theatre. [13] [14] [15] The Folies Bergère was an attempt to emulate the success of its Parisian namesake. By September 1911 it had failed swiftly and heavily: Harris lost a reported $100,000 on the venture. [16]

Amelia Bingham American actress

Amelia Swilley Bingham was an American actress from Hicksville, Ohio. Her Broadway career extended from 1896 until 1926.

Robert Edeson actor

Robert Edeson was an American movie and stage actor of the silent era.

42nd Street (Manhattan) street in Manhattan

42nd Street is a major crosstown street in the New York City borough of Manhattan, known for its theaters, especially near the intersection with Broadway at Times Square in Midtown. It is also the name of the region of the theater district near that intersection. The street has held a special place in New Yorkers' imaginations since at least the turn of the 20th century, and is the site of some of New York's best known buildings, including the Headquarters of the United Nations, Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, New York Public Library, Times Square and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

By April 1912 he was in London, arranging future performances of Maggie Pepper by Charles Klein with his star artiste Rose Stahl and the original American cast from the Harris Theatre. [17] [lower-alpha 2] The play was made into a 1919 film of the same name. Harris also acquired the US rights to The Miracle , the world's first full-colour narrative feature film which had been showing at the Royal Opera House. [17]

Charles Klein British-American playwright and actor

Charles Klein was an English-born playwright and actor who emigrated to America in 1883. Among his works was the libretto of John Philip Sousa's operetta, El Capitan. Klein's talented siblings included the composer Manuel and the critic Herman Klein. He drowned during the sinking of the RMS Lusitania.

Rose Stahl American actress

Rose Stahl was a Canadian-born American stage actress.

<i>Maggie Pepper</i> 1919 film by Chester Withey

Maggie Pepper is a lost 1919 American silent comedy-drama film directed by Chester Withey and starring Ethel Clayton. This film is based on a hit 1911 play by Charles Klein which was a winning success for stage actress Rose Stahl at the Harris Theatre.

Renee Harris with a portrait of her husband in 1959 Renee Harris with portrait 1959.jpg
Renee Harris with a portrait of her husband in 1959

Harris was one of the 1,500 who died in Titanic's sinking on April 15, 1912. [1] A survivor's eyewitness account suggests that Harris went to his death needlessly. Mrs. Emil Taussig and her husband, along with the Harrises, went to the deck as they felt the collision. After the women had been placed in a lifeboat, there was still room for other passengers. When Harris and Taussig attempted to enter the lifeboat, both men were threatened with revolvers. Mrs. Taussig said this boat was lowered with empty seats aboard it; she and her daughter were passengers on this lifeboat. [18] [19] She said when she last saw Henry Harris and her husband, both were standing side by side as they waved goodbye to their loved ones aboard the lifeboats. [19]

Revolver handgun that has a cylinder containing multiple chambers and at least one barrel

A revolver is a repeating handgun that has a revolving cylinder containing multiple chambers and at least one barrel for firing. The revolver allows the user to fire multiple rounds without reloading after every shot, unlike older single shot firearms. After a round is fired the hammer is cocked and the next chamber in the cylinder is aligned with the barrel by the shooter either manually pulling the hammer back or by rearward movement of the trigger.

Although she had broken her elbow in a fall on Titanic's grand staircase earlier in the day, Irene Harris had somehow managed to leave the lifeboat before it was lowered. [8] [20] Hoping to be able to leave Titanic with her husband, she remained until the last lifeboat was being readied. Fifteen minutes after it was lowered into the water, Titanic sank. [21] Mrs. Harris was rescued by the ship RMS Carpathia. She cabled the Hudson Theatre from the ship, saying that her husband was not among those on board, but hoped he had been saved by another rescue vessel. [11] A story was circulated that Harris had been rescued by another ship and had wired his New York office to that effect, but this proved to be untrue. [22] His body was lost at sea. If it was recovered and brought to Halifax by one of the cable ships sent out to look for bodies, it was never identified as such. [23]

RMS <i>Carpathia</i> passenger steamship known for her role in the rescue of survivors from the RMS Titanic

RMS Carpathia was a Cunard Line transatlantic passenger steamship built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson in their shipyard in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Halifax, Nova Scotia Provincial capital municipality in Nova Scotia, Canada

Halifax, formally known as the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), is the capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. It had a population of 403,131 in 2016, with 316,701 in the urban area centred on Halifax Harbour. The regional municipality consists of four former municipalities that were amalgamated in 1996: Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford, and Halifax County.

Selected productions

Advertisement for Rose Stahl in The Chorus Lady at the Park Theatre, Boston in 1909 1908 ParkTheatre BostonEveningTranscript 17April.png
Advertisement for Rose Stahl in The Chorus Lady at the Park Theatre, Boston in 1909


  1. Irene Wallach Harris took over her husband's business after his death. She was initially assisted by her father-in-law and her brother-in law, William. [3] [9] [10]
  2. Charles Klein also died in a well-known maritime disaster, the sinking of Lusitania in 1915.

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  1. 1 2 "Henry B. Harris". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. April 16, 1913. p. 5. Retrieved February 26, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  2. The Jews of the Titanic: A Reflection of the Jewish World on the Epic Disaster, by Eli Moskowitz p.176 c.2018 ISBN   978-1-938015-96-0 eBook:978-1-938015-97-7
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Who Is William Harris Jr.?". Courier-News. November 8, 1920. p. 8. Retrieved February 26, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  4. 1 2 3 "Henry B. Harris". Bristol Banner. April 26, 1912. p. 6. Retrieved February 26, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  5. 1 2 "Henry B. Harris, Theatrical Manager--Remarkable Career of Man Who Started Peddling Song Books". Pensacola Journal. April 26, 1908. p. 10. Retrieved February 26, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  6. "The World of Society". Evening Star. October 19, 1899. p. 8. Retrieved November 21, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  7. 1 2 "Henry B. Harris". Pittsburgh Press. April 17, 1912. p. 3. Retrieved February 26, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  8. 1 2 "Renee Harris, 93, First Woman To Produce Plays Here, Is Dead". New York Times. September 3, 1969. p. 47. Retrieved February 27, 2017.{subscription required)
  9. Greene, Mabel (April 3, 1927). "Woman's Place in the Theatre". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. p. 98. Retrieved February 26, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  10. "Sequel to a Story of Two Politicians". Anaconda Standard. May 31, 1912. p. 8. Retrieved February 27, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  11. 1 2 "Theater Owner and Producer, Who Sailed on Titanic, Not Listed With Survivors". San Francisco Chronicle. April 18, 1912. p. 2. Retrieved February 26, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  12. "William Harris, Sr., Stage Veteran Dies" (PDF). New York Times. November 26, 1915. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  13. The Oxford Companion To American Theatre, 2nd edition by Gerald Bordman, c. 1992 page 323; by The Oxford University Press
  14. Who Was Who in the Theatre: 1912-1976 c. 1976, volume 2 page 1103 originally published by John Parker annually, 1976 version published by Gale Research
  15. Who's who in music and drama: an encyclopedia biography of notable men by Dixie Hines & Harry Prescott Hanaford, page 156, c. 1914
  16. "Folies Bergere experiment reaching an end tomorrow" (PDF). Variety. New York. XXIV (4): 1. 30 September 1911. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  17. 1 2 Miss Stahl's Return, The Standard (London), 11 April 1912, p. 5, col. 2. via Newspaperarchive.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  18. "Threatened with Revolvers". Courier-Journal. April 20, 1912. p. 1. Retrieved February 27, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  19. 1 2 "Threatened with revolvers 2". Courier-Journal. April 20, 1912. p. 2. Retrieved February 27, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  20. "Mrs. Henry B. Harris". Courier-Journal. April 20, 1912. p. 1. Retrieved February 27, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  21. "Ismay Was Not in Last Boat". Salt Lake Tribune. April 23, 1912. p. 3. Retrieved February 27, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  22. "Many Inquiries for H. B. Harris". New York Times. April 17, 1912. p. 1. Retrieved February 27, 2017 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  23. "Henry Birkhardt Harris". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved February 27, 2017.