On May 15, 1962, the British songwriting team of Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley were up-by-the-bootstraps types, just hitting their 30s, and would become big stars. On that day, they scratched out what would become perhaps their most influential hit, a deceptively simple song called "Feeling Good." Nina Simone would make it her anthem in 1965, and Michael Bublé would have a worldwide hit with it nearly three decades later. The Library's Bricusse collection preserves that moment of creation in one of his meticulously kept notebooks.
"Maestro," the high-profile film biography of legendary composer Leonard Bernstein, hits theaters this week, starring Bradley Cooper. The Library holds a vast trove of Bernstein's papers, some 400,000 items that document every stage of his life and career. In a brief video, Mark Horowitz, a senior music specialist at the Library and the archivist for the Bernstein Collection, gives a tour of the material and its cultural significance.
When the Library acquired choreographer Garth Fagan’s papers earlier this year, it wasn't just about his work on "The Lion King." Fagan's papers built on Music Division collections of an array of dance luminaries: Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Bronislava Nijinska, Katherine Dunham and the American Ballet Theatre. The Library’s dance-related materials cover the American art form from Colonial times to the present. Together, they present a dazzling history of American dance.
The Lee Strasberg papers, held in the Manuscript Division, provide a unique glimpse into his Actors Studio, which created the influential style of Method Acting. In 1955, attendees signed in by hand, giving a snapshot of a galaxy of stars at work and producing a collector's dream of celebrity autographs: Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, Harry Belafonte, Eva Marie Saint, Patricia Neal, Rod Steiger, Geraldine Page and Eli Wallach, among many others.
The Library now has the papers and collected works of Neil Simon, the most commercially successful playwright in American history and one of the most honored. "Barefoot in the Park," "The Odd Couple," "The Sunshine Boys," "Biloxi Blues," "Plaza Suite," "Lost in Yonkers." By the time he died at age 91 in 2018, he his career included 28 Broadway plays, five musicals, 11 original screenplays and 14 film adaptations of his own work. The Library's collection includes more than 180 titled works that Simon began, many of them completed but never published or produced.
The Library has dozens of 19th century animated toy theaters that were wildly popular in Europe and the United States, displaying dashing stories of pirates, undersea adventures, magic and adventure. Conservators have been painstakingly mending damage caused by historical use, making sure researchers can draw insights from the theaters for years to come.
The court photographer for the Ziegfeld Follies, Alfred Cheney Johnston -- who later donated more than 200 of his photographs to the Library -- captured the era and helped create the modern celebrity glamour shot. He was one of the first celebrity photographers. Stars such as Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, Helen Hayes, John Barrymore, Barbara Stanwyck, Dorothy and Lillian Gish and Marilyn Miller all flocked to him. His star faded over time, but is remembered in an elegant photobook, "Jazz Age Beauties,"
The Library’s acclaimed Crime Classic series is launching a new edition of “The Conjure-Man Dies” this month, a staple of the Harlem Renaissance and the most important work of long-overlooked novelist Rudolph Fisher. First published in 1932, the book was the first full-length mystery novel to feature an all-Black cast of characters, including detectives, suspects and victims.
"The Metropolitan Opera Murders," the latest entry in the Library's Crime Classics series, is a novel from a woman who knows the score. Helen Traubel, a longtime star soprano who performed at the Met for years, wrote the book in 1951, shortly before she left the opera to pursue a career in popular entertainment.