A Yankee Doodle Dandy: the George M. Cohan — Sam H. Harris partnership
(BROADWAY.) GEORGE M COHAN & SAM H. HARRIS. Theater financial ledger of Sam Harris and George M. Cohan
New York, 1906-1907
Folio. 400 pp. ruled ledger, perhaps half blank, mainly written on both rectos and versos. Original reversed leather, spine present but detached, else very good condition.
This massive manuscript ledger charts formative years of the show business partnership of George M. Cohan, the “father of American musical comedy,” and Sam H. Harris, the famed Broadway producer and theater owner.
Cohan was “the greatest single figure the American theater ever produced – as a player, playwright, actor, composer and producer” (New York Times obituary). Born in the Lower East Side to poor Jewish parents, Harris was a small-time producer and boxing promoter when he met George M. Cohan. The men hit it off and formed a partnership beginning with Cohan’s first full-length musical, Little Johnny Jones (featuring “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “(I’m a) Yankee Doodle Dandy”). Together the two revolutionized Broadway while creating dozens of shows and revues. They are buried side-by-side at Woodlawn Cemetery.
This ledger presents the daily receipts, expenses, and a statement of profit or loss for the Cohan-Harris shows of 1906-1907. The ledger is also noteworthy for its details on the expenditures for shows including salary for cast, orchestra, staff, lighting, wardrobe, props, scenery, printing, and much more.
Shows include Little Johnny Jones (featuring “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “(I’m a) Yankee Doodle Dandy”), George Washington, Jr., The Honeymooners, Popularity, The Governor’s Son, Forty-five Minutes from Broadway, and Fifty Miles from Boston. Some of the entries reflect out-of-town previews, some shows achieve long runs in New York, and others are sent on tour across the United States.
Offered together with engraved stock certificates further documenting this epoch-making partnership:
The Cohan and Harris Publishing Company. Capital Stock $25,000. 26 February 1908. Certificate no. 2. Two shares). Signed by Cohan as president and Harris as treasurer.
Polish Wedding Amusement Company. Capital Stock $10,000. August 1912. Certificate no. 8. Thirty shares. Signed by Cohan as president and Harris as treasurer.
This ledger and the associated stock certificates are rare documentation of one of the great partnerships in American entertainment history.
Provenance: Sam H. Harris.