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Lester Cowan and Ann Ronell "Trial of Billie Holiday" Collection

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1213

Abstract

Title:
Lester Cowan and Ann Ronell "Trial of Billie Holiday" Collection
Author/Creator:
Lester Cowan and Ann Ronell "Trial of Billie Holiday" Collection
Collection number:
05-46-SCPA
Size:
0.50 Linear Feet
Bulk dates:
1957-1988
Inclusive dates:
1957-1988
Collection Area:
Special Collections in Performing Arts
Repository:
Special Collections in Performing Arts, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Contact the curator: http://www.lib.umd.edu/scpa/contact
Abstract:

The Lester Cowan and Ann Ronell "Trial of Billie Holiday" Collection consists of correspondence, scores, lyric sheets, contracts, film proposals, screenplays, clippings, and photographs related to the proposed film, "The Trial of Billie Holiday," developed in collaboration by Lester Cowan and Ann Ronell.

Important Information for Users of the Collection

Restrictions:

The collection is open for research use.

Preferred citation:

Lester Cowan and Ann Ronell "Trial of Billie Holiday" Collection, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Publication rights:

Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment: http://www.lib.umd.edu/scpa/contact

Status:

This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Lester Cowan (1907-1990), originally from Mansfield, Ohio, was an independent producer of motion picture films in the 1930s and 40s. He started his career by leaving his studies at Stanford University and migrating to Hollywood in the late 1920s. In 1928, he was hired by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where he wrote a book on the advent of talkies and helped start the annual Academy Awards. In 1929, he started a lecture series on film studies at the University of Southern California. He also organized the film industry's research council, which was responsible for developing technical standards and audience research. Films he produced include You Can't Cheat On Me (1939), My Little Chickadee (1940), Ladies in Retirement (1941), Commandos Strike At Dawn (1942), Tomorrow the World (1944) and The Story of G.I. Joe (1945). He collaborated on the proposal for The Trial of Billie Holiday with his wife, Ann Ronell.

Ann Rosenblatt Ronell (1908-1993), a composer of both classical works and music for motion pictures, was born in Omaha, Nebraska. During her studies at Radcliffe College, she met George Gershwin, who subsequently gave her a job as a rehearsal pianist for Broadway shows. She also took up teaching, vocal coaching and songwriting. Ronell became one of the few composers of her day to be adept at writing both lyrics and music. After writing a few successful songs in the 1930s ("Baby's Birthday Party" and "Willow Weep for Me"), she started composing music for films. Her collaboration with composer Frank Churchill resulted in the first Disney hit song, "Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?" (from The Three Little Pigs, 1933). Her work as music director for The Story of G.I. Joe (1945) won her two Oscar nominations. She also composed a Broadway musical (Count Me In, 1942) as well writing opera lyrics and music for ballet. The Cowan and Ronell "Trial of Billie Holiday" Collection suggests that she created the script for this film, and provides evidence of her participation in the planning of it.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection contains correspondence, song manuscripts, lyric manuscripts, photographs and other materials pertaining to the proposed film entitled The Trial of Billie Holiday.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Purchase made by Bruce Wilson (former head, Performing Arts Library) from the Charles Apfelbaum Company. Purchased in 1999.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Stephanie Schmitz and A.J. Reitter, November 2004 and October 2013

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Stephanie Schmitz.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Correspondence, 1957-1965 (Six folders)

This series comprises letters written by those affiliated with the planning of the film The Trial of Billie Holiday. Such correspondence includes materials from Lester Cowan and Ann Ronell to personal acquaintances, attorneys, the United Artists Corporation and various record companies.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Personal correspondence, 1965-1971 series 1box 1folder 1
Bill Dufty to Ann Ronway, July 29, 1965 series 1box 1folder 1item 1.0
To Corky Hale [Unsigned], August 17, 1965 series 1box 1folder 1item 2.0
To Bill Dufty [Unsigned], August 17, 1965 series 1box 1folder 1item 3.0
To Lester Cowan [unsigned], September 28, 1971 series 1box 1folder 1item 4.0
Correspondence with Attorneys, 1957-1986 series 1box 1folder 2
Sidney Levin to Lester Cowan, March 15, 1957 series 1box 1folder 2item 1.0
Sidney Levin to Lester Cowan, March 26, 1957 series 1box 1folder 2item 2.0
Milton Rosenbaum to Lester Cowan, September 4, 1986 series 1box 1folder 2item 3.0
Correspondence with United Artists Corporation, 1957-1959 series 1box 1folder 3
Anthony Mann to "Gentlemen", October 1957 series 1box 1folder 3item 1.0
Max Youngstein to Lester Cowan, August 11, 1959 series 1box 1folder 3item 2.0
Max Youngstein to Lester Cowan, September 1, 1959 series 1box 1folder 3item 3.0
Correspondence regarding lead actress, 1957-1958 series 1box 1folder 4
Charles Wood to Lester Cowan, February 21, 1957 series 1box 1folder 4item 1.0
Max Youngstein to Lester Cowan, February 17, 1958 series 1box 1folder 4item 2.0
Correspondence with record companies, 1957-1960 series 1box 1folder 5
Archie Bleyer to Lester Cowan, February 12, 1957 series 1box 1folder 5item 1.0
Herbert Marks to Lester Cowan, December 26, 1957 series 1box 1folder 5item 2.0
George Avakian to Lester Cowan, January 10, 1958 series 1box 1folder 5item 3.0
Lewis Dreyer M. William Krasilovsky, October 4,1960 series 1box 1folder 5item 4.0
Miscellaneous correspondence, undated series 1box 1folder 6
Envelope: Return address: Lester Cowan Productions, marked: Ticket stub to Billy Holiday show [empty], undated series 1box 1folder 6item 1.0
Envelope: Addressed to: Miss Ann Ronell, 101 W. 55th St., New York City, 10019. Contents: paper clipping with address of Jean Pace, undated series 1box 1folder 6item 2.0
Draft of letter to Billie Holiday [unsigned, undated], undated series 1box 1folder 6item 3.0

Series 2: Contracts and Contract Related Materials, Undated (1 folder)

This series includes signed and unsigned contracts between those involved with the planning of the film.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Signed and unsigned contracts between those involved with the planning of the film, memos, and letters, 1955-1959 series 2box 1folder 7
Letter: William Dufty to Billie Holiday, August 1, 1955 series 2box 1folder 7item 1.0
Agreement: Drake Investment Corporation and Walter Reade, Jr., February 14, 1957 series 2box 1folder 7item 2.0
Agreement: Lester Cowan and William F. Dufty, March 18, 1956 series 2box 1folder 7item 3.0
Agreement: Lester Cowan and William F. Dufty, March 18, 1956 series 2box 1folder 7item 4.0
Agreement: Lester Cowan and Louis McKay, March 18, 1956 series 2box 1folder 7item 5.0
Agreement: Lester Cowan and Ann Ronell, March 18, 1956 series 2box 1folder 7item 6.0
Agreement: Lester Cowan and Ann Ronell, March 18, 1956 series 2box 1folder 7item 7.0
Agreement: Lester Cowan and United Artists Corporation, October 29, 1957 series 2box 1folder 7item 8.0
Notes for Ann, from Lester Cowan, August 1957 series 2box 1folder 7item 9.0
Agreement: Lester Cowan and William Dufty, August 1959 series 2box 1folder 7item 10.0
Letter: Paul D. OBrien to Herbert Schottenfield, August 12, 1959 series 2box 1folder 7item 11.0
Memorandum, Billy Holiday Property, undated series 2box 1folder 7item 12.0
Contract: Holiday, Dufty and Cowan [One loose page], undated series 2box 1folder 7item 13.0
324 Federal Reporter, 2nd Series, pages 762-763, undated series 2box 1folder 7item 14.0

Series 3: Manuscripts, Undated (1 folder)

Includes handwritten scores of "Hungry for Love" and "Smoke Dreams." Also contains drafts of lyrics written on miscellaneous pieces of paper.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Scores and lyric sketches relating to the proposed film, undated series 3box 1folder 8
Score: "Hungry for Love," vocals, undated series 3box 1folder 8item 1.0
Score: "Hungry for Love," piano, undated series 3box 1folder 8item 2.0
Score: "Hungry for Love," published copies, undated series 3box 1folder 8item 3.0
Score: "Hungry for Love," published copy for Billie Holiday, undated series 3box 1folder 8item 4.0
Score: "Smoke Dreams," sketch, undated series 3box 1folder 8item 5.0
Lyric Sketches: "Diaz and Lores hair stylists" letterhead: "For you found injustice", undated series 3box 1folder 8item 6.0
Lyric Sketches: Ann Ronell c/o G. Schirmer letterhead: "I cried for you", undated series 3box 1folder 8item 7.0
Lyric Sketches: "Hungry For Love", undated series 3box 1folder 8item 8.0
Lyric Sketches: "Hungry for Love," verse and refrain, undated series 3box 1folder 8item 9.0
Lyric Sketches: "My door is open", undated series 3box 1folder 8item 10.0
Lyric Sketches: Ann Ronell stationary (back): "When you're sentimental..", undated series 3box 1folder 8item 11.0
Other: Green cover from Columbia Pictures' central files: "The Whole Town's Talking", undated series 3box 1folder 8item 12.0

Series 4: Film Proposal, Undated (3 folders)

Drafts of film plans and song lists related to the proposed film.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Drafts of film plans and song lists relating to the proposed film, 1988 and undated series 4box 1folder 9
"The Trial of Billie Holliday, Waskow and Ernie Pyle" [sic], [Undated.] series 4box 1folder 9item 1.0
Notes on Billie Holiday Film, [Undated.] series 4box 1folder 9item 2.0
Song List: The Trial of Billie Holiday, notes made by authors, lists of numbers for the musical store [Sic.], [Undated.] series 4box 1folder 9item 4.0
Sing List: The Trial of Billie Holiday, song list with address of George Avakian, [Undated.] series 4box 1folder 9item 5.0
Song list: Autograph (author unknown). Also, on same page, typed notes about the use of permission on excerpting from her trial, [Undated.] series 4box 1folder 9item 6.0
Song list: top of page headed Music and Lyrics by Ann Ronell, [Undated.] series 4box 1folder 9item 7.0
Song list: top of page headed: Drake Investment Corporation, [Undated.] series 4box 1folder 9item 8.0
Song list: List of 18 songs, Main TitleFinale, [Undated.] series 4box 1folder 9item 9.0
Song list: Songs for Billie Holiday Score, [Undated.] series 4box 1folder 9item 10.0
Song list: List of random groups of songs, Gloomy Sunday to Hungry for Love, [Undated.] series 4box 1folder 9item 11.0
Song list: Musical Numbers and Their Setting, 25 numbers (two copies), 1988 series 4box 1folder 9item 12.0
Notes on Billie Holiday Film, undated series 4box 1folder 9item 3.0
Song List: Billy Hollyday, entrances and exits, undated series 4box 1folder 9item 13.0
Song List: Ext/Int,, March 18, 1988 series 4box 1folder 9item 14.0

Series 5: Screenplays, Published Items, and Clippings, Undated (1 folder)

This series contains two copyrighted screenplays: The Trial of Billie Holiday (Ronell) and Harlem: A Musical Memoir (Dufty). It also contains published items and clippings that hold an ambiguous relationship to the film.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Screenplays, 1957, 1966, and undated series 5box 1folder 10
Dufty, William. Harlem: A Musical Memoir, 1966 series 5box 1folder 10item 2.0
Ronell, Ann. The Trial of Billie Holiday, 1957 series 5box 1folder 10item 1.0
"The Trial of Billie Holiday" [cover sheet], undated series 5box 1folder 10item 3.0
Published items, 1958, 1987 series 5box 1folder 11
Playbill, Volume 87, No. 4 (April 1987), 1987 series 5box 1folder 11item 2.0
WGA Bulletin, January 1958, 1958 series 5box 1folder 11item 1.0
Clippings, 1958, 1987, and undated series 5box 1folder 12
Watt, Douglas. "Record Review" [Source Unknown], July 27, 1958 series 5box 1folder 12item 1.0
Wilson, John S. "Aura of Billie Holiday is Captured at the Jazz Museum.", undated series 5box 1folder 12item 3.0
"There is Joy In Heaven Over Billie Holiday," Catholic News, August 1, 1959 series 5box 1folder 12item 2.0
Short review of Holiday autobiography, undated series 5box 1folder 12item 4.0

Series 6: Photographs, Undated (1 folder)

This series contains photographs and other visual materials related to the proposed film.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Miscellaneous photographs pertaining to the proposed film, undated series 6box 1folder 13
Diahann Carroll headshot (b&w, 8.5x11), undated series 6box 1folder 13item 1.0
Billie Holiday and unidentified person, undated series 6box 1folder 13item 5.0
Photocopy reproductions of two unidentified subjects., undated series 6box 1folder 13item 6.0
Cherubim figure. ( b&w photocopies), undated series 6box 1folder 13item 7.0
Diahann Carroll headshot (b&w, 8.5x11), undated series 6box 1folder 13item 2.0
Diahann Carroll headshot (b&w, 8.5x11), undated series 6box 1folder 13item 3.0
Diahann Carroll headshot (b&w, 8.5x11), undated series 6box 1folder 13item 4.0

Related Material

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Bibliography

Fowler, Glenn. "Lester Cowan, 83, Film Producer of Works Lighthearted to Weighty" (obituary), The New York Times, October 23, 1990. Section B, page 9, column 1.

Grattan, Virginia L. American Women Songwriters, A Biographical Dictionary. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1993.

Harrison, Nigel. Songwriters: A Biographical Dictionary with Discographies. Jefferson: McFarland. 1998.

Holden, Stephen. "The Women Who Wrote Songs that Made Grown Men Sigh," in The New York Times. August 15, 1999. Section 13, page 4, Column 1.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.

Subjects

Names (Added Entries)