The Richard Rodgers Papers consist of correspondence, photographs, posters, newspaper clippings, and other material related to the career of Richard Rodgers. There is a small series of production files which includes materials on THE KING AND I, SOUTH PACIFIC and OKLAHOMA! The primary strength of the collection lies in the inclusiveness of the business correspondence; there are both complimentary and uncomplimentary letters, indicating that Rodgers did not edit the collection to eliminate unfavorable information. Another strength of the collection lies in the amount of correspondence with his collaborators, particularly Oscar Hammerstein II. There is, however, no direct correspondence between Rodgers and his first collaborator Lorenz Hart and there are few references to Hart. Although there are a considerable amount of letters from Rodgers to his wife, there are very few from her to him. There is also a small amount of correspondence related to Dorothy Rodgers political and literary activities.
Biographical/historical: Richard Rodgers, composer and producer, was born in New York on June 28, 1902. He composed his first song, My Auto Show Girl when he was fourteen years old. (This is included in the collection Box 16, Folder 6) In 1918 Rodgers met his first professional partner, Lorenz Hart. Together they presented their first hit show, The Garrick Gaieties in 1925. In 1929 Rodgers and Hart appeared in a two-reel autobiographical short, Masters of Melodyproduced by Paramount-Famous-Lasky Corp. and written and directed by S. J. Kaufman. In 1948, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced a biographical film about the professional relationship and career of Rodgers and Hart.
Rodgers teamed up with Oscar Hammerstein II in 1942 to produce Oklahoma!. After the death of Lorenz Hart in 1943, Hammerstein became Rodgers' permanent collaborator. They worked together until Hammerstein's death in 1960. Among the works created by Rodgers and Hammerstein are: Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, State Fair,Flower Drum Song,The King and Iand Cinderella. Following Hammerstein's death Rodgers continued to produce musicals. In 1962 he wrote both the music and the lyrics for No Strings, and in 1965 he teamed up with Stephen Sondheim on Do I Hear a Waltz? His last musical was an adaptation of John Van Druten's play I Remember Mama which opened on Broadway on May 31, 1979.
Richard Rodgers married Dorothy Feiner in 1930. They have two daughters, Mary and Linda. Richard Rodgers died December 30, 1979.
Content: The Richard Rodgers papers consist of correspondence, photographs, clippings and ephemera documenting his career as a composer and producer. Included as well, is a small amount of materials related to the political and literary activities of his wife, Dorothy Rodgers. The primary strength of the collection is in the breadth and depth of the business correspondence. The correspondence contain letters from friends and business associates throughout the career of Richard Rodgers and includes as well, carbon copies of letters sent in reply to these friends and associates giving a clear and comprehensive picture of Richard Rodgers in all facets of his professional career. There are both complimentary and uncomplimentary letters, indicating that Rodgers did not edit the materials to eliminate unfavorable information. Another strength of the collection lies in the amount of correspondence with his collaborators, particularly Oscar Hammerstein II. Lacking in the collection is correspondence between Richard Rodgers and his first collaborator, Lorenz Hart. Also missing from the collection is correspondence from Dorothy Rodgers to Richard Rodgers, although there is considerable correspondence from Richard Rodgers to his wife, Dorothy.