SKU: A01613 Category:


Description: Significantly, this large archive includes 42 letters, 3 cards, and 8 telegrams from the actor Gene Lockhart to his sister, Helen Havel, a vaudeville actor. It also includes a signed copy of Canny Tales Fae Aberdeen, bearing the inscription: “To Dad with Love, Gene.” Many more letters and cards to Helen are from Gene’s wife, actress Kathleen Lockhart, their daughter, actress June Lockhart, and other family and friends. The telegrams and cards congratulate the Havels on their vaudeville success and offer condolences on the death of her parents. The archive also includes a Canadian patent for Gene Lockhart’s mother’s cleaning product, RUB-A-JIFFY, and a folder of material relating to Helen Havel’s naturalization application as well as other miscellany such as receipts, newspaper clippings, etc. In total, the archive has 83 letters, 51 greeting cards, and 18 telegrams.

Actors Gene and Kathleen Lockhart maintained a long, intimate, and affectionate correspondence with Helen Havel whom he affectionately called “snooks.” His signed letters, three of which are handwritten, reveal intimacy between the siblings, his loving relationship with his daughter and wife, and the responsibility Lockhart assumes for his parents as well as sister and brother-in-law, paying their bills, arrears, and/or providing them with an allowance as well as ideas and “gags” for Artie’s acts. He writes wittily about his new roles, about his wife Kathleen’s breakthroughs, and their daughter June’s entry into and her understanding of the art world. He readily provides advice and resources for Helen’s application for naturalization and citizenship. He personally experiences the disruption to Hollywood during WWII, and his letters include impressions he gathers while performing in various military camps around the country and in Europe. On a Red Cross campaign in the Midwest and the East, he notes that “the middle West does not seem to be as war conscious as two coasts. . . .” Even as he acknowledges Southern hospitality, he reckons that “the majority of the people [in Hollywood] come from someplace else; they work well together and are not bound by family tradition, as in the South” (April 6 and May 28, 1943). He compares his 23-day trip to Europe to perform “John Loves Mary” for the GIs to a “rollercoaster ride at Coney Island. . . . But a wonderful experience.” He has a harrowing flight to Rome, first “when the plane dropped straight down 2000 ft.,” and a second bumpy ride to Germany, after which he learns that his daughter had talked the pilot into letting her fly “the crate!” In Rome he has an audience with the Pope (Pope Pius XII), whom he describes in great detail, as “a combination of dignity, simplicity, humanity and humor” (Sept 16, 1949).

In several letters, he unreservedly comments about movies and the roles he plays: “Algiers was previewed last night. It is an excellent picture”; “A Christmas Carol is going well and everyone is pleased with what we are doing”; I’m from Missouri is “good fun, a little bit of hokum, but lots of laughs.” He plays “a rat part” in Can’t Escape Forever, “small but interesting” in Desert Song, is in an untitled picture, “which is a lower case b picture,” and “a rascally role but a good one” in Unconquered. He gets beat up on the set of “Juke Girl,” “squashed tomatoes in [his] face, slapped . . . plenty, and then thrown . . . into a pile of packing crates. . . .” He says he “can’t take it eight times in succession” and decides that that was his “farewell performance as a stunt man” (Nov 22, 1941). During the War, Kathleen also works in the Hollywood canteen and he is a bus boy on the same nights. In 1942, we learn “Picture production is being cut in favor of war shorts and many stars are going into the services.” His group plays two camps a week, to “benefit to the Red Cross… [and raise] funds to buy a station wagon for transportation of entertainment groups and emergency purposes.”

He writes about his daughter, June Lockhart, with much affection and pride: June sees “how precarious the picture and theatre business can be” (Feb 5, 1943) and is “also learning what it is to grow up and face a world of adolescent cubs and baggy-eyed wolves. . . [June observes] ‘Some men who try to talk to you don’t like it when you start laughing at them.’ We are leaning about life and art from her.” Refusing a part in a family radio series, June says “No” dismissing the “those drip-script soap operas” where “Daddy has to be a grouchy meanie. . .  Mother’s always crying in the soup. . . I don’t want to be known as a typical home-town girl!” (Easter 1944).

A handwritten note to his sister reads, “My Sweet, It said ‘steak’ in the script but what I got was fish! Am having the lots appraised. You typewrite splendidly.  Best love, Gene”

Eleven of Kathleen Lockhart’s undated letters to her sister-in-law exhibit a similar affection and intimacy. She shares Gene’s triumphs and tribulations with humor, the morning troubles of “having to get his hair curled” for a role and “trying to reduce for the Bob Cratchit part! Tee Hee! L.” Additionally, Kathleen offers a glimpse into the Hollywood lifestyle: “We are guests of honor at the ‘Drunkcard.’ We have to do so many things for publicity we’d rather not do, but it seems very important part of this business.” In her letters, June Lockhart emerges as a witty and talented young woman who is “great pals [with her father] and [that they] have such fun together.”

The typed and autograph letters signed (all signed “Gene”) are written on different kinds of ivory and blue paper, some on “Gene Lockhart” imprinted stationery and are of varying sizes, the largest being approx. 8½ “x11”.  Item #A01613

Edwin Eugene Lockhart (1891-1957) was a Canadian-American character actor, playwright, singer and lyricist. He taught acting and stage technique at the Julliard school of Music in NYC and appeared in more than 300 movies, playing both the villain and the good guy. He is best known for his playing Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol in 1938 and the judge in Miracle on 34th Street (1947). He was married to the actress Kathleen Lockhart (she starred opposite him as Mrs. Crachit) and their daughter, June Lockhart, was also an actor.

Helen Mary (Lockhart) Havel (1899-1973) performed in the long-running vaudeville act called “Lover’s lane” and “Oh! Uncle.” She also was in “Just a Minute” the Original Broadway Musical in 1928.  Her husband Arthur Havel was a well-known vaudeville actor. He and his brother, Morton, had a stage act called Art & Mort. Their song “Pretty Face” was featured in the movie Plane Crazy.

Condition: A few letters have short tears along the folds and scattered soil. One Kathleen Lockhart letter is split into two along the middle fold without hindering content. They are all quite legible and easy to read.