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ARCHIVE OF THE OPERATIC CAREER OF FRANK FOREST, MAINLY IN THE 1930s: Compiled by himself, a world-famous performer on stage, screen, and radio
1930. This archive comprises five thick albums/scrap books of various sizes, six manila folders of professional photographs, a folder of publicity materials, and a few loose programmes. These are all arranged in rough chronological order, although the contents of the albums often overlap each other. Included are: myriad newspaper clippings re FF and his career in all three media; magazine articles; advertisements for FF's services and announcements of performances; original photographs (professionally taken and candid shots) of FF, sometimes in costume and in performance; many movie stills from FF's films, and professionally-taken "on set" shots; letters and telegrams; press releases; operatic and other performance programmes; record catalogs containing FF songs; invitations; publicity materials; contracts; and odds and ends. The condition of the five albums is spotty: some of the items inside are chipped or even tattered, many of them have come unglued, some (mostly articles received from a clipping service) are simply laid in. Some of the pages have hand-lettered labels, providing dates, names of people, and locations of events. Taken as a group, the materials in this archive provide a comprehensive picture of the life and career of a performer who was world-famous, especially in the 1930s and 40s, not only as an opera star, but also as a radio and movie star. ~~ The first album, containing most of the earliest material, has a padded, tattered floral cover, tied. Its 40 pages are 8 ½" x 11 ¼" and their contents cover the years 1930-1933, with some of the clippings written in Italian and some items simply laid in at the back. After a 9 ¼" x 6 ½" professional head shot of FF, the album starts with the 1930 material relating to FF's "debut" in March, singing baritone in Faenza, Italy, in "La Boheme". These items include congratulatory telegrams and letters (mostly from family members) housed in a glued-in envelope, news clippings (some from Minnesota papers, one of which refers to FF as "Edgar L. Hayek's brother"), a broadside (10" x 6 ½") announcing his debut performance, newspaper reviews, postcards showing the theater, etc. Also from 1930 are FF's contract dated 16 January, 1930 with a theater in Milan, pages of news clippings (reviews, etc.), a congratulatory note in May from Giuseppina Cavallero re his "splendid success", clippings of articles and reviews re other FF performances that Spring, and broadsides for "Pagliacci" (May 7) and "La Traviata" (Sept. 28). The year concludes with a professional head shot of FF and his note that in November, 1930, he entered a "New Era" changing "from baritone to tenor," and that he received his "first contract one year later as leading tenor at La Scala." From 1931 is a snapshot (5 ½" x 4") taken in Palermo of FF and Edith Mason ("the great soprano of the Chicago Opera and fine companion" who sang with FF in "Madame Butterfly" in 1932) and an article about La Scala's 1931-32 season. There are 10½ pages of news clippings from 1932, 2 pages of telegrams congratulating him on his being 'engaged for La Scala," a snapshot of labeled singers (5 men, 1 woman), a ¾-length professional shot of FF in uniform as Pinkerton labeled "Butterfly," and two ads for "Franco Foresta-Hayek" for May and June, 1932, in the classical music magazine Musical America (one with a head shot), and a large folded announcement of operas at Teatro Kursaal di Lugano in Sept.-Oct. Material from 1933--the year of FF's film debut in a British movie filmed in Venice-- includes two snapshots: "In our garden" with composer Richard Hageman and wife; and 13 photos taken in Venice during the making of the film "For Love of You" (some labeled on verso by Roberta's son); and 6½ pages of clippings and several invitations to dances, etc. hosted by political figures. There are also 3 snapshots of FF and people around a piano, stamped "Porter's Cleveland, Hollywood, CA" on verso, and several items in an envelope labeled Il Piccolo Teatrale (a publication) containing related items in Italian. ~~ The second album (12 ¼" x 9") labeled "News Cuttings" has 30 pages filled (some with folded larger items), and most concerned with 1933 events, notably FF's appearance in the British film "For Love of You". Items include: a 2½-page press release "How Franco Foresta Was Discovered," telling the story of the film's director and a studio executive hearing him singing on a gondola in Venice and tracking down the voice of this "dazzling new screen personality" to the Opera House; four large professional b/w photos (ca 9" x 6" or 7" x 5") identified in ink, of FF and various other stars of the movie on set in Venice; ca. 11 pages of news clips regarding the film and FF's discovery;several pages of reviews, including one with caricatures of the film's stars; 3-page and 2-page spreads (identical photos) about the film in an Italian magazine; a 17" x 22 ½" spread (folded) from The Daily Film Renter (Oct. 27, 1933) which is a poster for the film shown at London's Cambridge Theatre; a 17" x 10" collage of still photos from the film in the Supplement to Kinematograph Weekly (Nov. 2, 1933); a full-page two-tone photo of FF and co-star in "eastern" costume from London Life; and a loose clipping or two. ~~ The third & largest album (16" x 13") is bound in black and lacks the bottom fastener. Many, many items are laid into it (mostly newspaper clippings), some placed between pages, others at the rear. About 12 pages are occupied with material relating to 1933's "For Love of You", including several pages of reviews (some as early photocopies); a full-page ad for FF's record of the film's title song from Parlophone; five 8 x 10 glossy photos of movie scenes and of FF in costume. ("Exteriors made in Venice and the Lido, Italy--Interiors made at Elstree, England" says a note on one.) From 1935 are pages with reviews and articles about FF's role in "Dancing City" a musical play that was part of the Golden Jubilee celebration in London's Colosseum in June, along with 4 large b/w professional shots of FF and the cast (2 photos mounted on cardboard); and a 14" x 10¼" full-page announcement (with photo) re FF's notable success in his American debut as Faust with the Chicago Opera Company, along with two pages of news clips re that Company. Items from 1936 include newpaper and magazine clips, many about FF's appearance on August 18 at the Hollywood Bowl in a benefit performance for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with Leopold Stokowski conducting; an announcement (12" x 9 ¾") re FF's availability for the 1936-37 season; The Big Broadcast of 1937 (filmed in 1936) section includes 8 professional photos from the film (ca. 8" x 10"), featuring FF and co-stars Shirley Ross, Ray Milland, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Jack Benny, etc. and includes a photograph of FF "making 'La Bamba' [a musical number] at Paramount, 2 A.M." There are three 8 x 10 stills from "Champagne Waltz" (1937), with Gladys Swarthout and FF; and 9 stills from I'll Take Romance (1937) with FF and Grace Moore, featuring the duo singing numbers from "Madame Butterfly."From April, 1938, is a 13 ½" x 9" cover of Musical Courier with large photo of FF, and one page of news clippings re FF's role on the radio show "Double or Nothing" dated March 29, 1941. Also present are three 10 ¼" x 8" shots of FF in the film "Take it Big" (one head shot, two full-body shots); and a 6-panel (8 ¾" x 5 ½") ad for "New Moon" (a Sigmund Romberg operetta) on Decca Records, featuring FF. ~~ The fourth album (14" x 11") contains 96 pages devoted to (as a title-page notes) "Articals [sic] of Opera-Operetta & Society, Films and Discks... ." Although there are several magazine articles, invitations, a telegram, and a few letters, virtually all the contents of this album consists of newspaper clippings 1935-36, many provided by a clipping service, starting with articles on FF's Italian season and performances in Cairo and Alexandria, then his return to the U.S. and engagement with the Chicago City Opera Company in 1935 (including a TLS from Chicago Mayor Edward J. Kelly, thanking Frank for singing at his mother's funeral) and a group of articles on his role in the London Jubilee production "Dancing City". Items from 1936 include gossip columns, news and reviews of his Hollywood movies, his performance at the Hollywood Bowl benefit, and his radio work, including "Caravan." ~~ The fifth, smaller "Snap Shots" album (7 ¼" x 10 ¼"), bound in flexible boards, with lower left corner chipped, focuses mainly on the Hayek family, as well as FF's career in 1936-38, as well as wife Roberta's 1962 art exhibition (these items are laid in at rear). Some of the entries have come unglued, and a few pages are loose. The album's 50 or so filled pages open with 12 pages containing 45 snapshots of the Hayek family at home in Minnesota, a studio photo of FF's father, and a clipping from the St. Paul Pioneer Press (July 8, 1935) re FF's return to the States. There are also 2 pages of other local clips about FF's return, and a newspaper article on brother Edgar L. Hayek speaking at the Northwest Credit Conference (with photo) and a magazine article about him. The rest of the album features: newspaper clippings re FF's film debut, his appearances on the "Caravan" radio show, various 1936 engagements including the Hollywood Bowl performance, and FF and Roberta's participation in the "Festival Garden Party" in May, 1936; ads noting FF's availability for various seasons; a 2-page article on FF from Movie Classic for October, 1936; several headshot photos; an announcement for the Chicago City Opera Company; etc. At the back of the album is the material relating to Roberta's art show in 1962, including TLsS re her paintings from "Walter" [Toscanini] and Lauder Greenway of the Metropolitan Opera Board, 10 notes (some handwritten, some typed) from others who bought paintings, 7 items re the exhibition itself: handwritten list of paintings with prices, framing bill, etc. ~~ The Frank Forest archive also contains 6 folders of original professional photographs, some labeled on the versos with photographic studio stamps and/or handwritten descriptions of the photo locales. A folder labeled "Franco Radio" holds nine 8" x 10" glossies (some duplicates) and two smaller photos taken with FF at the microphone, etc. An unlabeled folder holds 6 glossies from the film "For Love of You". The large "Franco Portraits" folder holds about 80 professional photos, most 8" x 10", mostly from 1936-37. These publicity shots show FF in various film roles (including stills from the films), playing golf at Bel Air, playing tennis, posing with his dog Impy, singling at Camp Pendleton (1943), celebrating his 24h anniversary in 1951, posing with his wife and Henry Fonda, sitting with a group at a restaurant table, etc. The "Franco Listed" folder contains two 8" x 10" photos and one snapshot of FF and visitors to the set of "Champagne Waltz." The "Franco Opera" folder contains 8 photos of various sizes, including FF in "Dancing City", in the Bellini opera "Beatrice" in 1934, on the movie set in Venice in 1933, and 2 of tenor Charles Hackett. It also contains two real-photo postcards. The folder labeled "Franco Autographs-Opera" holds an inscribed photo-portrait of a male opera star in Bari in 1934 (11" x 7 ½"); a photo from Rome, 1934, inscribed by "Toti dal Monte"; an 8" x 10" childhood photo inscribed by Gene Lockhart; a stiff card from the Grand Hotel in Venice, signed by fellow cast members of "For Love of You" (Diana Napier, Arthur Riscoe, et al. 1933); and an oval photo mounted on a card inscribed in 1931 by Alessandro Bavasko. ~~ The manila folder (15" x 9") labeled "Franco-Publicity" includes a 5" x 8" ad for Feen-a-Mint with a head shot of FF, as "star of 'Double or Nothing"; an 8-page brochure from Parlophone Records (June, 1934), with a headshot of "Franco Foresta" and an ad inside for the "first record by the New Great Film Discovery" singing the title song from "For Love of You" and Ravini's "Serenade". A green folder labeled "Press Material" contains stencilled copies of FF's long and short biographies and various fill-in-the-blanks for use in press releases, tailored in various forms for music, woman's page, fashion, record and tv columnists; a TLS from Erich Simon, the European representative of NY's Metropolitan Opera, requesting Frank's press material and asking about audition dates (June, 1935); a 6-panel folding publicity release, very tattered at the top, (15" x 10") about the film "For Love of You" (1933), including photos, story summary, cast photos, and a brief biography of FF in his film debut; and several versions of movie posters and advertisements for the film. ~~ The archive also includes several larger, loose items: two copies (on stiff stock, 10" x 7 ½" with embossed insignia of the Lloyd Triestino shipping company) of a March 22, 1935 programme "Concert in honor of the commander of the ship 'Vienna'[of the Lloyd Triestino Company line] featuring members of the Lyric Company of the Royal Theater of Cairo" and including a song sung by FF. The programme is four pages long, with a watercolor illustration titled "A Tour of Capri" on the cover by illustrators (and shipboard decorators) Edina and Vittorio Accornero. ~~ Also present are two copies (stiff covers, tied with purple ribbon, 11 ¾" x 8 ½") of the November 3, 1933 programme at the London Hippodrome "Matinee in the Aid of 'The Friends of the Poor' under the immediate patronage of her Majesty the Queen... ." A 16-page booklet inside the covers (11" x 8") describes the Friends of the Poor's aim to "help all Classes throughout the Kingdom, especially White Collar Brigade and the Sick of all ages... ." It has a tear-off pledge sheet, as well as a programme of songs, comedy, dance, speeches, sketches, etc., with FF singing an aria from "La Boheme" and the title song from "For Love of You", advertisements, lists of sponsors and committees, etc. The operatic tenor and movie and radio star Frank Forest (1896-1976) was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, as Frank Hayek. His parents (one of Czech descent, the other British) were Emil and Mary (Binder) Hayek of St. Paul, and he was one of four brothers, including Edgar Hayek, later the mayor of Albert Lea, Minnesota. Frank and Edgar were part of the St. Paul Quartet (aka Saintly City Quartet), and they performed at many local churches and events. After studying agricultural engineering at U Minnesota, and being graduated from the School of Agriculture as valedictorian, Frank helped found the pharmaceutical firm White Laboratories (creator of "Feen-a-Mint" laxative gum, among other products). He remained a director of the Kenilworth, NJ, company for years, until it finally merged to become Schering Plough. Frank's heart, however, was always in his singing. He started studying bel canto singing in Italy. He married another opera hopeful, Roberta Faxon. Frank made his operatic debut in 1928 in the small town of Faenza after several years of performing throughout Italy, Egypt, and the Continent as "Franco Foresta" (the Italianized translation of his name). By 1931, Frank changed from singing baritone parts to singing tenor. He became a member of La Scala in 1932. and sang before kings and queens at special events, including a major role at the Bellini Centennial Festival in 1935. ~~ In 1933, still as "Franco Foresta," he played a starring role in the British film shot in Venice, "For Love of You." Frank was hailed as a major "discovery." He joined the Chicago City Opera Company in 1935, then was soon signed by Paramount Pictures, which also "loaned" him to Columbia Pictures. His breakthrough Hollywood role was playing an egotistical radio star in Paramount's "The Big Broadcast of 1937." Forest made three more films between 1937 and 1944, the most notable being "I'll Take Romance" in which he costarred with operatic luminary Grace Moore. A second career in radio was next, and he sang regularly on The Camel [cigarette] Caravan, a musical variety show that started in the 1930s. He then starred for 4 years on Double or Nothing, a highly popular quiz show. Frank later returned to his operatic roots and was known for his Wagnerian roles. At some point, he also became a managing director of opera at Carnegie Hall. In 1955, Frank started working on the creation of an Empire State Festival, bringing opera to non-Manhattan New York venues, an annual event that lasted through 1961. Good.
      [Bookseller: R & A Petrilla]
Last Found On: 2015-08-10           Check availability:      Direct From Bookseller    

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