The first-ever Academy Award for writing was awarded to a Lamb, Edwin J. Burke, for his screenplay adaptation "Bad Girl." The statuette is on loan to The Lambs from the Albany Institute of History and Art, thanks to the efforts of Edwin's nephew, Lamb C. Thomas Burke. The statuette was the bequest to the Institute by Burke's niece, Grace Baxter. We greatly appreciate the help and cooperation of Tamis K. Groft and Barbara A. Bertucio of the Albany Institute for arranging the loan. Research used below provided by Elizabeth Spinelli, Public History Program, State University of New York at Albany.
EDWIN J. BURKE
(sometimes credited as Edwin H. Burke)
A successful playwright, screenwriter, director and active member of The Lambs, Edwin Burke was awarded an Academy Award (aka the Oscar ®) in 1932 for his writing adaptation for the movie Bad Girl ; The movie also won an Oscar ® for Best Director, Frank Borzage. Unfortunately, no know copy of the movie exists today.
Born in Albany, New York, on August 30, 1889, Burke (pictured below) moved to New York City in 1908 to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Between 1910-1920, he worked in a variety of productions as an actor and director, including leading roles in Othello and Hamlet. By the early 1920's he began to write one-act plays and skits. Of his 250 works, 87 were produced in theaters. Burke was Elected a Professional Member of The Lambs in 1924. In 1928 Burke wrote his first full-length play, This Thing Called Love, which ran for mare than 100 performances at Maxine Elliott's Theater. The play, which dealt with the trials and tribulations of modern marriage, was adapted to the screen in 1929, with Constance Bennett and Edmond Lowe in the leading roles ... and again in 1940, with Rosalind Russell and Melvyn Douglas. Burke moved to Hollywood in 1929 and worked as a writer for the Fox Film Corporation where he wrote scripts and worked as a dialogue director on many successful films. Burke returned to the East in 1935, was the Director of the Percy Williams' Home (now the Actors' Fund of America), an active Council Member of The Lambs, and a member of The Players until his death in September of 1944.
The film, Bad Girl, was based on the book of the same name written by Vina Delmar in 1931. Delmar, a New York City writer, was known for her strong characters – especially women – and her insightful descriptions of American life during the Roaring 20's and the Great Depression. Described as part melodrama and part comedy, the film tells the story of a young married couple as they struggle to survive during the hard times of the Depression. The film resonated with the American Public because so many people were facing similar hardships.
(Left: Shepherd Bruce Brown and C. Thomas Burke)
Edwin Burke will always be remembered for his generosity to The Lambs for financing the building of the theater within our old 44th Street clubhouse, and the bronze plaque acknowledging his contribution is located in our 5th Floor performance space (and pictured right); Edwin J Burke is an Immortal Lamb. You may read more about Edwin Burke at the following links:
The Oscar® and The Lambs®
(as compiled by the late Roy B. Jorgensen)
The distinguished actor and Lamb Conrad Nagel founded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) with Fred Niblo and Louis B. Mayer on May 4, 1927. Douglas Fairbanks, it's first president, later became a Lamb in 1939. History was made during the first Academy Award presentation held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on May 16, 1929, which honored the winners for 1927-1928. One of the special awards was bestowed to the "world's greatest clown" as well as for his earlier work in silent films - a Lamb with no peers - Charles Chaplin (for versatility and genius in writing, acting, directing and producing The Circus. Conrad Nagel himself received an Oscar® in 1940 for his work in the Motion Picture Relief Fund. On March 19, 1953, Nagel and Bob Hope made television history by co-hosting the first coast-to-coast telecast of the Academy Award Ceremonies; Hope at the Hollywood Pantages Theater and Nagel at New York's International Theater. The following is a listing of Academy Award winning Lambs, NOT in its entirety ( the research continues....)
1929: Charles Chaplin, special Academy Award.
1931: Best Actor: Lionel Barrymore, A Free Soul.
1932: Best Screenplay Adaptation: Edwin J. Burke, Bad Girl.
1937: Best Film Score: Charles Previn, 100 Men and a Girl.
1938: Best Film Score: Irving Berlin, Alexander's Ragtime Band.
1941: Best Song: Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern, "The Last Time I Saw Paris" (Lady Be Good).
1942: Best Film Score: George M. Cohan, Yankee Doodle Dandy.
1942: Best Song: Irving Berlin, "White Christmas" (Holiday Inn).
1945: Best Song: Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, "It Might as Well be Spring" (State Fair).
1951: Best Screenplay: Alan J. Lerner, An American in Paris.
1955: Best Film Score: Rodgers & Hammerstein, Oklahoma!
1956: Best Film Score: Rodgers & Hammerstein, The King and I.
1958: Best Screenplay: Alan J. Lerner, Gigi.
1958: Best Film Score: Lerner & Loewe, Gigi.
1958: Best Song: Frederick Loewe, Alan J. Lerner, "Gigi" (Gigi).
1958: Best Film: Gigi - Lerner & Loewe.
1964: Best Film: My Fair Lady, Lerner & Loewe.
1964: Best Film Score: Lerner & Loewe, My Fair Lady.
1965: Best Film, The Sound of Music, Rodgers & Hammerstein.
1967: Best Film Score: Lerner & Loewe, Camelot.
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