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Norman Rockwell Museum

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What Price Glory?

Unidentified Man, J.C. Leyendecker, Unidentified Woman, and Norman Rockwell, April, 1925. Detail of photo by White Studio, New York, New York.

In September of 1924, a new play written by Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stallings opened on Broadway at the Plymouth Theater in Manhattan. The show was titled, What Price Glory?, and featured American marines in France during the first World War. Over the course of one year, it was performed over four hundred times. The theatrical production has since been remade into several feature-length films, including a version directed by John Ford in 1952, which starred James Cagney.

In the spring of 1925, with the help of local businesses, the play's management and cast organized a fundraising event, the proceeds from which went towards various veterans' charities. In addition to three days of benefit dances, a What Price Glory? poster contest was organized that featured illustrations made by men who served in the armed forces. Winners of the competition were awarded prizes by Arthur Hopkins, the play's producer. A photograph within our Archives identifies the judges, which included Norman Rockwell, and J.C. Leyendecker. Well-known for his advertising images commissioned by Arrow Shirt Collars, and House of Kuppenheimer, Leyendecker was Rockwell's friend and a fellow illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post. This photo is one of the few known images of the artist. Celebrities of their time, turn-of-the-century American illustrators were often invited to judge contests concerning art and beauty. On several occasions, Rockwell served as a juror for the Miss America Pageant while in the company of artists Dean Cornwell, and Howard Chandler Christy.

This photo was taken by White Studio, a commercial photographic firm with strong ties to New York's theater industry. Luther White, the studio's founder, has been credited with the development of flash-pan artificial lighting (NYPL, 2011). The New York Public Library is home to over 175,000 photoprints taken by White Studio between 1903 and 1936, a collection considered to be the most comprehensive documentation of the American stage from that period.


"Poster show to help soldiers: Programs at Plymouth Theatre for benefit of the wounded veterans." (1925, April 19). The New York Times (1923-Current file), X8. Retrieved January 27, 2011, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times (1851 - 2007). (Document ID: 98822612).

Posters exhibited for war charities: Marie Dressler in barmaid regalia at back-stage tea at the Plymouth Theatre. (1925, April 21). The New York Times (1923-Current file), p. 18.  Retrieved January 27, 2011, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times (1851 - 2007). (Document ID: 101657530).

New York Public Library. (2011). "White studio theatrical photographs." Retrieved from