The Summer Playhouse 'Beautiful'
In early August it was announced that with the exception of Stephen Courtleigh the former cast was replaced. The director W.D. Morgan was now also the manager. Paul Giles, a New York character actor, and actors Velma Jozsy, Janet Leland, Philip Beeche and Ida Miller were the new cast. Leland had performed in a short-lived Broadway production Field of Ermine in May 1935. Ida Miller’s Broadway credits were in musical comedy but in much earlier productions, Tickle Me in 1920-21 and Molly Darling in 1922. Paul Kirk Giles would appear on Broadway in post-Lake productions, Pillar to Post in 1943 and The Small Hours in 1951 (which only had 20 performances; Pillar to Post had 31). A comedy-drama Dear Diary would play at the Lake on August 7, 1939, a pre-Broadway hopeful by playwright Douglas McLean. The play was based on a girl and revelations from her diary. McLean planned to attend the play and hopefully a Broadway producer would stage it. The play did not reach Broadway.
In mid-August, with Stephen Courtleigh as lead, the playhouse presented the three-act farce Dr. Quack based on life with a medicine tent show. Added cast members were Haymer Wainwarning and Bert Gerald. Critics found play the greatest laugh producer of the Lake season and a trio of Broadway producers viewed it for a possible New York production. Dr. Quack was extended into the early days of the following week, with the claim it was so popular it had to be held over (but possibly a signal the next production had problems). This play also did not reach the New York stage.
The final play Lights, another three-act comedy-drama, also a Broadway hit, ran the remaining three days of August 23-25. When Courtleigh left the Lake he returned to New York City by auto with Valley friends. As he passed a Summer playhouse in Clifton, NJ, his friends joked they should just leave him there. After a week in New York, Courtleigh did find other work – at the Cifton, NJ, playhouse.
The lead actor of the Lake playhouse, Stephen Courtleigh (1913-1967), had a long and distinguished acting career, appearing in nine Broadway productions between 1931 and 1948. He was the voice of The Shadow in six radio shows in 1945 – he felt he could not truly carry the role. He appeared in two dozen television productions between 1945 (playing Abraham Lincoln) and 1964 (playing George Washington). He appeared in some of the most famous TV productions in the 1950s-1960s: Hallmark Hall of Fame; Lawman; Donna Reed; Perry Mason; Leave it to Beaver; The Jack Benny Show – and again as Abraham Lincoln in the Philco Television Show in three shows between 1949-51. In one 1950 Philco show Grace Kelly played Ann Rutledge opposite Courtleigh’s Lincoln.
George Makinson continued with acting until World War II. Sgt. George Makinson was a member of the 629th Tank Destroyer Battalion which landed on Omaha Beach on July 2, 1944. After fighting in France the unit participated in the V Corps parade in Paris on August 29. The unit liberated the Duchy of Luxemburg but a late arrival, Gen., George Patton, took credit. The battalion then fought in the Battle of the Bulge and crossed the famous Remagen Bridge over the Rhine River in March. Fighting continued through Bavaria to the Isar River.
Copyright 2006-2008 F. Charles Petrillo