Burnside, R. H., 1870-1952

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Robert H. Burnside (1870-1952) was an American actor, director, producer, composer, and playwright.

He was stage director of the New York Hippodrome from 1908 to 1923. He wrote and staged hundreds of dramas, musicals and theatrical spectacles.

From the description of R.H. Burnside papers, ca. 1890-1950. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122485338

R.H. Burnside, 1870-1952, actor, director, producer, librettist, and lyricist, is remembered chiefly as the stage director of the New York Hippodrome from approximately 1908-1923. He was born in Scotland to a theatrical family - his mother was the English actress Margaret Thorne, and his father managed Glasgow's Gaiety Theatre. Burnside began his career as a child actor. As a young man he worked as an actor and stage manager in London. In 1894 Burnside came to the United States as a stage manager for Lillian Russell, settling here permanently.

During his early years in the United States, Burnside worked as a stage manager for the Jefferson De Angelis Opera Company, for various Shubert productions in New York and on tour, and for other groups. Around 1908 Burnside began as stage director of the Hippodrome, first under the management of Lee and J.J. Shubert, and after 1914, under Charles B. Dillingham. The Hippodrome, which opened in 1905, was located on Sixth Avenue, covering the entire block between 43d and 44th Streets on the eastern edge of New York's theater district. Advertising itself as the “largest playhouse in the world,” it seated 5,200 at each of its two daily performances, employed approximately 400 stagehands, fit casts of up to 400 on its enormous stage, and housed forty horses and four elephants in its stables. The theatrical extravaganzas Burnside staged, and often wrote, for the Hippodrome featured ballets, circus acts, dramas, and musical comedies, all of which provided only “clean enjoyment” for their crowds of spectators. The Hippodrome was famous for the deep water tank under the apron of its stage used for a trick in which forty to sixty chorus girls stepped into the tank and did not reappear. Michel Fokine, Harry Houdini, Anna Pavlova, and John Philip Sousa were among those who contributed to the Hippodrome's productions.

Burnside left the Hippodrome when it was taken over by the B.F. Keith vaudeville chain in 1923 (The building was torn down in 1939, and the office building now standing on the site is called “The Hippodrome.”)

He then went into business as R.H. Burnside Studios, supplying professional advice, and costumes, properties, and whole productions which he had bought from the Hippodrome to amateur groups interested in putting on shows.

Before, during, and after his Hippodrome career, Burnside wrote and/or staged hundreds of dramas, musicals, and theatrical spectacles. He also wrote songs. His collaborators included: Anne Caldwell, John Golden, Raymond Hubbell, Gustave Kerker, Jerome Kern, Manuel Klein, and Austin Strong. Performers and designers he worked with included: Maude Adams, Leon Bakst, Walter Catlett, Gaby Deslys, Della Fox, Eddie Foy, Loie Fuller, De Wolf Hopper, Elsie Janis, Al Jolson, Ann Murdoch, Willy Pogany, and Fred A. Stone. He also staged productions for the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial in 1926; the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair; the Hermits Club, Cleveland; the Pittsburgh Athletic Association; the Rotary Club; and other non-theatrical organizations.

Burnside also worked in the film industry. In 1924 he directed the film Manhattan for Famous Players-Lasky Corporation in its Long Island City, N.Y. studios. (This corporation appears to have been affiliated with Paramount. In 1927 its name was changed to Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation.)

He was less successful in Hollywood, serving, from 1935-1938, as writer and technical advisor for a Universal Studios film Hippodrome which was apparently never produced.

During the late 1930s and 1940s, toward the end of his professional life, Burnside produced Gilbert and Sullivan operettas that toured the United States.

Burnside lived in Ridgewood, New Jersey for many years with his wife Kathryne (Kittie) Hyland Burnside, and daughters Kathryne (1906-1928), Helen (Snookie), and Beatrice (Betty). He was an active member of many theatrical clubs and organizations, including the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), of which he was a charter member, and The Lambs, which he joined in the 1890s. After Kittie's death in 1940, Burnside left the house in Ridgewood to live at The Lambs, remaining there until his death.

From the guide to the R.H. Burnside Papers, 1893-1949, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Playscripts and Promptbooks Collection TXRC02-A0., 1795-1978, bulk 1870-1915 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Klein, Manuel, 1876-1919. Sporting days; a spectacular melodrama in 5 scenes; book by R.H. Burnside; lyrics by Manuel Klein [Music by Manuel Klein. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Barrett, Wilson, 1848-1904. Playscripts and Promptbooks Collection, 1795-1978 (bulk 1870-1915). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Kerker, Gustave Adolph, 1857-1923. The singing society, or Music mad; a musical sketch. Libretto by R.H. Burnside; music by Gustave Kerker. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Sloane, A. Baldwin (Alfred Baldwin), 1872-1926. "Sergeant Kitty" [microform] / book by R.H. Burnside ; music by A. Baldwin Sloane. University of Missouri -- Columbia, MU Libraries; University of Missouri; MU; Ellis Library; University of Missouri Columbia
creatorOf Lusk, Milton. The girl from Mexico; a melo-dious drama in two acts, by H.N. Herriman and R.H. Burnside; lyrics by H.N. Herriman and R.H. Burnside. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Sousa, John Philip, 1854-1932. The toast / words by Frank Warren & R.H. Burnside ; music by John Philip Sousa. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Burnside, R.H., 1870-1952. R.H. Burnside papers, ca. 1890-1950. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Kerr, Caroline V. [Girls and boys, by C.V. Kerr and R.H. Burnside. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kerker, Gustave Adolph, 1857-1923. The tourists; a musical comedy in two acts. Book and lyrics by R.H. Burnside. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf R.H. Burnside Papers, 1893-1949 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Sousa, John Philip, 1854-1932. The toast / words by R.J. Burnside ; music by John Philip Sousa. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kerker, Gustave, 1857-1923. Burning to sing [collection] : or, Singing to burn ; a very grand opera in one act / libretto by R.H. Burnside ; music by Gustave Kerker. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
creatorOf Hubbell, Raymond, 1879-1954. Miss Millions, by R.H. Burnside. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Burnside, R. H., 1870-1952. "The tourists" [microform] : a musical comedy in two acts / book and lyrics by R.H. Burnside ; music by Gustave Kerker. University of Missouri -- Columbia, MU Libraries; University of Missouri; MU; Ellis Library; University of Missouri Columbia
referencedIn Jackson, Richard, 1936-. Burnside collection tally sheets. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Burnside collection of American theater music manuscripts, 19-- The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Sloane, A. Baldwin (Alfred Baldwin), 1872-1926. Sergeant Kitty [collection] / book by R.H. Burnside ; music by A. Baldwin Sloane. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
creatorOf Hubbell, Raymond, 1879-1954. Cheer up; a colossal revusical comedy in three cheers, by R.H. Burside. Lyrics by John L. Golden. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kerker, Gustave Adolph, 1857-1923. Fascinating Flora; a musical comedy in two acts. Book by R.H. Burnside & Joseph W. Herbert. [Interpolated numbers by Jerome Kern. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Burnside collection tally sheets, 1982 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Burnside, R. H., 1870-1952. [Burnside collection of American theater music manuscripts]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Hubbell, Raymond, 1879-1954. Miss Millions, by R.H. Burnside. Music by Raymond Hubbell. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Lusk, Milton. The girl from Mexico; a melo-dious drama in two acts, by H.N. Herriman and R.H. Burnside; lyrics by H.N. Herriman and R.H. Burnside. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Hubbell, Raymond, 1879-1954. The three Romeos; book and lyrics by R.H. Burside, music by Raymond Hubbell. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Hubbell, Raymond, 1879-1954. The girl from Cook's. [Book by Franz Arnold and Ernest Bach. English adaptation and lyrics by R.H. Burnside and Greatrex Newman; music by Raymond Hubbell and Jean Gilbert. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kerker, Gustave, 1857-1923. Burning to sing [music] ; or, singing to burn : a very grand opera in one act / libretto by R.H. Burnside ; music by Gustave Kerker. Libraries Australia
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith A. (Alfredo Leonardo) Edel person
associatedWith Actors' Equity Association corporateBody
associatedWith Actors' Equity Assocition corporateBody
associatedWith Actors Fund of America corporateBody
associatedWith American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. corporateBody
associatedWith American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) corporateBody
associatedWith Anna Pavlova person
associatedWith Arthur Voegtlin person
associatedWith Berlin, Irving person
associatedWith Berlin, Irving, 1888- person
associatedWith Betty Burnside Anderson person
associatedWith Bruce Edwards person
associatedWith Buck, Gene, 1885-1957. person
associatedWith Burnside, Kathryne, d. 1940 person
associatedWith Catholic Actors' Guild corporateBody
associatedWith Charles B. Cochran person
associatedWith Charles B. Dillingham person
associatedWith Charles Dillingham person
associatedWith Charles Frohman person
associatedWith City Club of New York corporateBody
associatedWith Clemence Dane person
associatedWith Cohan, George M. (George Michael), 1878-1942 person
associatedWith Deslys, Gaby, 1881-1920 person
associatedWith Dillingham, Charles B., 1868-1934. person
associatedWith Elsie Janis person
associatedWith Famous Players-Lasky Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith Florence Edel person
associatedWith Flo Ziegfeld. person
associatedWith Fokine, Michel, 1860-1942 person
associatedWith Francis, Day and Hunter corporateBody
associatedWith Fred A. Stone person
associatedWith Friars Club corporateBody
associatedWith George Blewitt person
associatedWith George M. Cohan person
associatedWith George S. Kaufman person
associatedWith Harms, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Harry Askin person
associatedWith Harry Houdini person
associatedWith Harry Kline person
associatedWith Harry Sears person
associatedWith Hein, Silvio person
associatedWith Helen Burnside Blewitt person
associatedWith Hippodrome corporateBody
associatedWith Hippodrome (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Hippodrome (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Hubbell, Raymond, 1879-1954. person
associatedWith Huckleberry Indians corporateBody
associatedWith James T. Anderson person
associatedWith Janis, Elsie person
associatedWith Jefferson De Angelis person
associatedWith Jesse L. Lasky person
associatedWith J. J. Shubert person
associatedWith John Golden person
associatedWith Kathryne Burnside person
associatedWith Kerker, Gustave. person
associatedWith Kerker, Gustave Adolph, 1857-1923. person
associatedWith Kerr, Caroline V. person
associatedWith Klein, Manuel, 1876-1919. person
associatedWith Kline, Harry person
associatedWith Lambs (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Lee Shubert person
associatedWith Loie Fuller person
associatedWith Lusk, Milton. person
associatedWith Margaret Thorne person
associatedWith Mark Luescher person
associatedWith Mary Roberts Rinehart person
associatedWith Michel Fokine person
associatedWith Ned Wayburn person
associatedWith Nell Dowling person
associatedWith New York Athletic Association corporateBody
associatedWith New York Hippodrome corporateBody
associatedWith New York Hippodrome Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith Oswald Stoll person
associatedWith Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation corporateBody
associatedWith Paramount Pictures, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Pavlova, Anna, 1881-1931 person
associatedWith Playscripts and Promptbooks Collection corporateBody
associatedWith Richard Harding Davis person
associatedWith Rotary International corporateBody
associatedWith Sam Shubert person
associatedWith Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition (1926 : Philadelphia, Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Shubert Organization. corporateBody
associatedWith Shubert, UNK person
associatedWith Silvio Hein person
associatedWith Sixty Club corporateBody
associatedWith Sloane, A. Baldwin (Alfred Baldwin), 1872-1926. person
associatedWith Society of American Dramatists and Composers corporateBody
associatedWith Sousa, John Philip, 1854-1932. person
associatedWith St. Cecile Lodge No. 568 corporateBody
associatedWith Strollers, The corporateBody
associatedWith Strong, Austin person
associatedWith T. B. Harms person
associatedWith The Lambs corporateBody
associatedWith the Masquers (Hollywood) corporateBody
associatedWith the Players corporateBody
associatedWith the Strollers corporateBody
associatedWith United Managers' Protective Association corporateBody
associatedWith Victor Kiraly person
associatedWith White Rats Actors' Union of America corporateBody
associatedWith Zoe Akins person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Hollywood (Calif.)
New York (N.Y.)
California--Hollywood
Subject
Moving-picture producers and directors--New York (N.Y.)
Dancers
Animals as represented on the stage
Hollywood (Calif.)--Social life and customs
Theater--New York (State)--New York
Theater--New York (N.Y.) - Societies and clubs
Theatrical producers and directors--New York (N.Y.)
Theater--Societies, etc
Motion picture industry--California--Hollywood
Dramatists, American--20th century
Motion picture industry
Theater
Actors
Theater--Production and direction
Motion picture industry--New York (State)--New York
Circus performers
Musical revue, comedy, etc
Theater--New York (State)--New York--Societies, etc
Screen writers--California--Los Angeles
Drama--Collections
New York (N.Y.)--Social life and customs
Occupation
Dramatists
Theatrical producers and directors
Theater producers and directors
Function

Person

Birth 1870

Death 1952

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