Bromberg, J. Edward, 1903-1951

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Actor on stage and screen and theatrical director, J. Edward Bromberg was born Joseph Bromberger on December 25, 1903 in Temesvar, Hungary and came to the United States with his parents when he was five years old.

He grew up to be a short, dark and stocky character actor, one of the finest supporting players for both the theater and motion pictures in the 1930s-1940s. He was an original member of the Civic Repertory Theatre, the Group Theatre and the Actors' Laboratory Theatre.

He made his acting debut in 1926 at New York's Greenwich Village Playhouse, then joined Eva Le Gallienne's company, the Civic Repertory, for five years before signing a two-year contract with the Theatre Guild.

In 1936, Bromberg gave into the temptation of motion pictures and was signed by Twentieth Century Fox. He played a series of character roles in 54 films from 1936-1950, depicting father figures, villains and ethnic types. While in Hollywood, he helped found the Actors' Laboratory Theatre in an effort to bring quality stage drama to the West Coast. He was also part of the formation of the Group Theatre appearing in MEN IN WHITE, GOLD EAGLE GUY and Clifford Odets' AWAKE AND SING, which he later directed for the Actors' Laboratory Theatre.

Bromberg was a victim of blacklisting when he was named as a member of the Communist Party in Hollywood.

He refused to answer questions put to him by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in June of 1951. He died of a heart attack on December 6, 1951 at the age of 47 while appearing in THE BIGGEST THIEF IN TOWN in London.

From the description of J. Edward Bromberg papers, 1924-1951. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 83643363

J. Edward Bromberg was born Joseph Bromberger on December 25, 1903 in Temesvar, Hungary (now Timisoara, Romania) and came to the United States with his parents when he was five years old. He was to grow up to be a short, dark and stocky character actor, one of the finest supporting players for both the theatre and motion pictures in the nineteen thirties and forties. He was an original member of the Civic Repertory Theatre, the Group Theatre and the Actors' Laboratory Theatre.

Bromberg graduated from Stuyvesant High School, in New York City, where he had been involved in the drama club. He dropped out of City College to work as a salesman and laundryman while studying acting with the Russian teacher Leo Bulgakov. His made his acting debut in 1926 at New York's Greenwich Village Playhouse. Bromberg joined Eva Le Gallienne's company, the Civic Repertory, for five years before signing a two-year contract with the Theatre Guild.

A friend of Morris Carnovsky, his work came to the attention of Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford, and Lee Strasberg. This led to an invitation for Bromberg to be part of the formation of the Group Theatre, whose mission was to produce Broadway plays that explored social and moral issues by developing acting techniques that emphasized emotional realism and psychological depth. Bromberg headlined two major roles for the Group in Men in White and Gold Eagle Guy . He also had a large supporting role in Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing, which he would also later direct in 1946 for the Actors' Laboratory Theatre.

In 1936, Bromberg gave into the temptation of motion pictures and was signed by Twentieth Century Fox. He played a series of character roles in 54 films from 1936-1950, depicting father figures, villains and ethnic types. While in Hollywood, he helped found the Actors' Laboratory Theatre in an effort to bring quality stage drama to the West Coast. He also lent his talents to directing as well as acting. In the last two years of his life, he taught and acted in New York City.

Bromberg was a victim of blacklisting when he was named as a member of the Communist Party in Hollywood. He refused to answer questions put to him by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in June of 1951. Bromberg died of a heart attack on December 6, 1951 at the age of 47 while appearing in The Biggest Thief In Town in London. On December 23, 1951 a memorial service was held to celebrate his twenty-five year contribution to American theatre as an artist and teacher. It was attended by hundreds of artists.

From the guide to the J. Edward Bromberg papers, 1924-1951, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf J. Edward Bromberg papers, 1924-1951 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Robert Benney research materials, 1926-1978 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Theatre Arts Monthly, collection of portraits, ca., ca., 1924-1939 (bulk), 1916-1964 (inclusive). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Bromberg, J. Edward, 1903-1951. J. Edward Bromberg papers, 1924-1951. New York Public Library System, NYPL
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Benney, Robert, 1904-2001 person
associatedWith Civic Repertory Theatre (New York, N.Y.). corporateBody
associatedWith Group Theatre (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Le Gallienne, Eva, 1899-1991. person
associatedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith Peter Lorre person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
New York (State)--New York
Subject
Motion pictures
Theater
Motion pictures--United States
Theater--New York (State)--New York
Occupation
Actors
Function

Person

Birth 1903-12-25

Death 1951-12-06

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