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Former York Little Theatre graphic with “First Lady” text (S.H. Smith, 2020)

Joe Biden, Sr. had prominent role in a York Little Theatre play

The father of Presidential candidate Joe Biden had a prominent role in a York Little Theatre production featuring feuding women conspiring to become First Lady. York Little Theatre, as its 35th production, presented “First Lady” on Monday and Tuesday, October 21st and 22nd, 1940. It was billed as an “amusing play about women in politics; but NOT a political play.”

In a previous post a chance discovery revealed the father of Presidential candidate Joe Biden worked as a clerk-typist for the American Oil Company Bulk Plant along Hill Street in Spring Garden Township, York County, Pennsylvania.

From August of 1939 thru October of 1940 records consistently record the residence of Joe Biden, Sr. is the York Y.M.C.A. At the time, Joe Biden, Sr. was 24-years-old, which is one year before he married and two years before the birth of Presidential candidate Joe Biden, Jr.

Many of the comments relating to the original post were constructive, while some were not. I found one comment particularly intriguing; a recollection Joseph Biden was actively involved with the York Little Theatre in late 1940 or early 1941. Previous research only revealed involvement in short plays as part of the Y.M.C.A. Dormitory Club.

I decided to search in the opposite direction of my previous post; i.e. going beyond the October 16th, 1940 date when Joseph Biden, Sr. registered for the Draft in York, PA. I did not have far to look, in discovering Joe Biden, Sr. played a prominent role in a York Little Theatre production on October 21st and 22nd, 1940.

York Little Theatre ad in The Gazette and Daily (York, PA) October 15, 1940.

The play “First Lady” was written by George S. Kauffman and Katherine Dayton. “First Lady” opened November 26, 1935 at the Music Box Theatre in New York City and ran for 246 performances. The play was later adapted as a film by Warner Bros. in 1937.

A brief summary of the “First Lady” play from a George S. Kauffman web site—A feud has existed for years between the manipulative Irene Hibbard and her rival, Lucy Chase Wayne, one of Washington’s most elegant and quick-witted hostesses and wife of a Cabinet official. When both women try to put forward the men in their lives as a possible presidential candidate, the feud becomes all-out war. Irene wants to back a handsome bachelor Senator (and divorce her husband after the election), while Lucy hopes to become First Lady by supporting her own husband.

Playing the prominent roles in a York Little Theatre production of “First Lady” are—The two women striving to become First Lady are: “Irene Hibbard” played by Carmen B. Liggitt, and “Lucy Chase Wayne” played by Alverta Herbst Keller. Their husbands are: “Carter Hibbard” played by Joseph Biden, and “Stephen Wayne” played by James Weeks.

Fred Shaffer played the bachelor “Senator Kean.” Harry Seyler played newspaper publisher “Ellsworth Ganning.” Mary Jane Jamison played Lucy’s Southern niece “Emmy.” Dorothy Culbertson played Mrs. Wayne’s secretary “Sophy Prescott.” Edith Geesey played club women “Mrs. Creevey,” and Lora Meisenhelder played “Belle Hardwick,” a friend of Lucy.

Peggy London played “Mrs. Ives.” Harry B. Harman played “Tom Hardwick.” Zelma Myers played “Ann Forrester.” Miriam Hershey played a “Congressman’s Wife,” and Peggy Nicholls played “Her Friend.” The rest of the York Little Theatre cast of “First Lady” included: Nevin Fahs, Jr., Florence Hardinge, Robert Koller, Weir Kunkle, Harold Moore, Calvin Schaeffer, and David Warfield, Jr.

The York Dispatch review of opening night appeared in their issue of October 22, 1940. That review includes: “Joseph Biden as ‘Carter Hibbard’ reveals an astonishingly accurate appreciation of his difficult role, and with this debut becomes one of the Little Theater’s most promising performers.”

The York Dispatch articles during November of 1940 include Joseph Biden as part of a group of seven York Little Theater performers presenting the skit “One Man’s Family” to several groups: York Rotary Club at the Yorktowne Hotel on November 13th, The Junior Division of the Business and Professional Woman’s Club at Y.W.C.A. on November 15th, and at a Welfare Committee banquet at the Yorktowne Hotel on November 18th.

Sometime after November 18th, 1940, Joseph Biden is working as a salesman for the American Oil Company, based in Harrisburg.

Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the photos in this post.

Link to related post:

Joe Biden’s father a clerk-typist for Amoco in York

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