Jewish Control of the American Theater
By Henry Ford
(Reprinted from the 1 January 1921 Issue of the house journal of the Ford Motor Co, the Dearborn Independent and slightly edited by Raymond Bray to eliminate the numerous uses of "which" for "that" in the original.)
The Theater has long been a part of the Jewish program for guidance of public taste and the influencing of the public mind. Not only is the Theater given a special place in the program of the Protocols, but it is the instant ally night by night and week by week of any idea that the "power behind the scenes" wishes to put forth. It is not by accident that in Russia, where they now have scarcely anything else, the still have the Theater, specially revived, stimulated and supported by Jewish-Bolshevists because they believe in the Theater just as they believe in the Press; it is one of the two great means of molding popular opinion.
Everybody has assumed offhand that the Theater is Jew-controlled. Few, if put to the test, could prove it, but all believe it. The reason they believe it is not so much what they see as what they feel; the American feel has gone out of the Theater; a dark, Oriental atmosphere has come instead.
Not only the "legitimate" stage, so-called, but the motion picture industry - the fifth greatest of all the great industries - is also Jew-controlled, not in spots only, not 50 per cent merely, but entirely; with the natural consequence that now the world is in arms against the trivializing and demoralizing influences of that form of entertainment as at present managed. As soon as the Jew gained control of American liquor, we had a liquor problem with drastic consequences. As soon as the Jew gained control of the "movies," we had a movie problem, the consequences of which are not yet visible. It is the genius of that race to create problems of a moral character in whatever business they achieve a majority.
Every night hundreds of thousands of people give from two to three hours to the Theater, every day literal millions of people give up from 30 minutes to two hours to the Movies; and this simply means that millions of Americans every day place themselves voluntarily within range of Jewish ideas of live, love and labor; within range of Jewish propaganda, sometimes cleverly, sometimes clumsily concealed. This gives the Jewish masseur of the public mind all the opportunity he desires; and his only protest now is that exposure may make his game a trifle difficult.
The Theater is Jewish not only on its managerial side, but also on its literary and professional side. More and more plays are appearing whose author, producer, star and cast are entirely Jewish. They are not great plays, they do not remain long. This is natural enough, since the Jewish theatrical interests are not seeking artistic triumphs, they are not seeking the glory of the American stage, nor are they striving to develop great actors to take the place of the old line of worthies. Not at all. Their interest is financial and racial - getting the Gentiles' money and Judaizing the Theater. There is a tremendous Judaizing movement on; the work is almost complete. Boastful articles are beginning to appear in the Jewish press, which is always a sign.
Gentile attendants on the Theater are frequently insulted to their faces, and never know it. Recently one of the best know Jewish entertainers on the stage indulged in vulgar and sacrilegious references to Jesus Christ, whereat the Semitic portions of his audience went into loud laughter, while the Gentiles sat blank-faced - because the remarks were in Yiddish asides!
Time after time the Jewish entertainer did that thing, and it was plain to one who knew that the Jewish portion of the audience was enjoying the insult to the Gentiles much more than they were enjoying the well-worn humor of the entertainer's remarks. It was a great thing for them that in several important American cities they could see and hear being done under cover, and to American Gentiles, what is being done openly to Russian Gentiles.
In the audience referred to there was probably $4,500 to $5,000 in gate money represented. Of this the Jews present, at the very highest estimate, could not have contributed more than $500. Yet the Jewish star several times slapped the religious sensibilities of the major portion of his audience under cover of Yiddish. The Theater is felt by him and his ilk to be a Jewish institution.
Down to 1885 the American Theater was still in the hands of the Gentiles. From 1885 dates the first invasion of Jewish influence. It meant the parting of the ways, and the future historian of the American State will describe that year with the word "Ichabod." That year marks not only the beginning of the Jewish wedge of control, but something far more important.
It is not important that managers are now Jews whereas managers were formerly Gentiles. That is not important. The importance begins with the fact that with the change of managers there came also a decline in the art and morals of the stage, and that this decline has become accelerated as the Jewish control became widened. What Jewish control means is this: that everything has been deliberately and systematically squeezed out of the American Theater except its most undesirable elements, and these undesirable elements have been exalted to the highest place of all.
The Great Age of the American Theater is past. About the time that Jewish control appeared, Sheridan, Sothern, McCullough, Madame Janauschek, Mary Anderson, Frank Mayo, John T. Raymond, began to pass off the stage. It was natural that , life being brief, they should pass at last, but the appalling fact began to be apparent that they had left no successors! Why? Because a Hebrew hand was on the stage, and the natural genius of the stage was no longer welcomed. A new form of worship was to be established.
"Shakespeare spells ruin," was the utterance of a Jewish manager. "High-brow stuff" is also a Jewish expression. These two sayings, one appealing to the managerial end, the other to the public end of the Theater, have formed the epitaph of the classic era. All that remained after the Hebrew hand fell across the stage were a few artists who had received their training under the Gentile school - Julia Marlowe, Tyrone Power, R. D. McLean, and, a little later, Richard Mansfield, Robert Mantell, E. H. Sothern. Two of this group remain, and with Maude Adams the y constitute the last flashings of an era that has gone - an era that apparently leaves no great exemplars to perpetuate it.
The present-day average of intelligence appealed to in the American Theater does not rise above 13 to 18 years. "The tired business man" stuff (another Jewish expression) has treated the theatergoing public as if it were composed of morons. The appeal is frankly to a juvenile type of mind that can be easily molded to the ideals of the Hebraic theatrical monopoly. Clean, wholesome plays - the few that remain - are supported mainly by the rapidly vanishing race of theatergoers who survive from an earlier day; the present generation has been educated by the narrowed compass of modern dramatic themes to support plays of an entirely different type. Tragedy is taboo; the play of character, with a deeper significance than would delight the mind of a child, is out of favor; the comic opera has degenerated into a flash of color and movement - a combination of salacious farce and jazz music, usually supplied by a Jewish song-writer (the great purveyors of jazz!) and the rage is for extravaganza and burlesque.
The bedroom farce has been exalted into the first place. With the exception of "Ben Hur," which is favored by Jewish producers apparently because it holds before the public a romantic picture of a Jew (a very un-Jewish Jew, by the way), the historical drama has given way to fleshly spectacles set off with overpowering scenic effects, the principal component of which is an army of girls (mostly Gentiles!) whose investment of drapery does not exceed five ounces in weight.
Frivolity, sensuality, indecency, appalling illiteracy and endless platitude are the marks of the American Stage as it approaches its degeneracy under Jewish control.
That, of course, is the real meaning of all the "Little Theater" movements that have begun in so many cities and towns in the United States. The art of drama, having been driven out of the Theater by the Jews, is finding a home in thousands of study circles throughout the United States. The people cannot see the real plays; therefore they read them. The plays that are acted could not be read at all, for the most part, any more than the words of jazz songs can be read; they don't mean anything. The people who want to see the real plays and cannot, because Jewish producers won't produce them, are forming little dramatic clubs of their own, in barns and churches, in schools and neighborhood halls. The drama fled from its exploiters and has found a home with its friends.
The changes that the Jews have made in the theater, and that any half-observant theatergoer can verify with his own eyes, are four in number.
First, they have elaborated the mechanical side, making human talent and genius less necessary. They have made the stage "realistic" instead of interpretative. The great actors needed very little machinery; the men and women on the pay rolls of the Jewish managers are helpless without the machinery. The outstanding fact about the vast majority of present-day performances of any pretension is that the mechanical part dwarfs and obscures the acting, however good. And this is the reason: knowing that good actors are growing scarce, knowing that the Jewish policy is death to talent, knowing perhaps most keenly of all that good actors constitute a running charge on his revenue, the Jewish producer prefers to put his faith and his money in wood, canvas, paint, cloth and tinsel of which scenery and costumes are made. Wood and paint never show contempt for his sordid ideals and his betrayal of his trust.
And thus we have when we go to the theater today, bursts of color, ruffles of lace and linen, waving lines and dazzling effects of light and motion - but no ideas, a great many stage employees, but very few actors. There are drills and dances without end, but no drama.
That is one influence on the American Theater that the Jew claims, and the credit for which can be given him in full. He has put in the iridescence, but he has taken out the profounder ideas. He has placed the American public in the position of being able to remember the names of plays without being able to recalled what composed them. Like the "Floradora Girls," a Jewish creation, we remember the name of the group, but not of any individual in it. The Jew has done this to perfection, but no one will contend that it represents a forward step; taken by and large, it is part of a very serious and harmful retrogression
Second, the Jews may be credited with having introduced Oriental sensuality to the American stage. Not even the most ardent Jewish defender will deny this, for the thing is there, before the eyes of all who will see. Little by little the mark of the filthy tide has risen against the walls of the American Theater until now it is all but engulfed. It is a truism that there is more unrefined indecency in the higher class theaters today than was ever permitted by the police in the burlesque houses. The lower classes must be restrained in the vicarious exercise of their lower natures, apparently, but the wealthier classes may go the limit. The price of the ticket and the "class" of the playhouse seems to make all the difference in the world between prohibited and permissible evil.
In New York, where Jewish managers are thicker than they ever will be in Jerusalem, the limit of theatrical adventuresomeness into the realm of the forbidden is being pushed further and further. Last season's spectacle of "Aphrodite" seemed to be deliberately designed as a frontal attack on the last entrenched scruple of moral conservatism. The scenes are most Oriental in their voluptuous abandonment. Men in breech-clouts, leopard skins and buckskins, women in flimsy gowns of gossamer texture, slashed to the hips, with very little besides, made a bewildering pageant whose capstone was the unveiling of a perfectly nude girl whose body had been painted to resemble marble. Save that it was all designed, and all put through on schedule, it was almost the "limit" to which such exhibitions could go in real life. Its promoter, of course, was a Jew. As an entertainment it was infantile; the splendor of its insinuations, the daring of its situations, were the fruitage of long study of the art of seducing the popular mind.
It was said when "Aphrodite" first appeared that the police had moved against it, but some held that this was a clever press-agent stunt to excite public interest in the promised pruriency. It was also said that even had the police interference been the genuine result of outraged official minds, the fact that the Jews of New York are represented in the judiciary out of all proportions to their numbers, would have rendered the Jewish producer free from interference. In any event, the piece was not molested. The sale of narcotics is illegal, but the instilling of insidious moral Poison is not.
The whole loose atmosphere of "cabaret" and "midnight frolic" entertainment is of Jewish origin and importation. Mention the best known and the worst known, they are all Jewish. The runway down which less than half-dressed girls cavort, fluttering their loose finery in the faces of the spectators, is an importation from Vienna, but a Jewish creation. The abuses of the runway will not bear description here. The Paris boulevards and Montmartre have nothing at all in the nature of lascivious entertainment that New York cannot duplicate. BUT neither New York nor any other American city has that Comedie Francaise that strives to counterbalance the evil of Paris.
Where have the writers for the Stage a single chance in this welter of sensuousness? Where have the actors of tragic or comic talent a chance in such productions? It is the age of the chorus girl, a creature whose mental caliber has nothing to do with the matter, and whose stage life cannot in the very nature of things be a career.
It is only occasionally that a great writer for the stage, a Shaw, a Masefield, a Barrie, an Ibsen, or any Gentile writer of merit, is permitted to get as far as actual production, and then only for a short period; the stream of colored electric lighting effects, of women and tinsel closes in behind them and they are washed away, to survive in printed books among those who still know what the Theater ought to be.
A third consequence of Jewish domination of the American stage has been the appearance of "the New York star" system, with its advertising appliances. The last few years of the Theater have been marked by numerous "stars" that really never rose and certainly never shone, but that were hoisted high on the advertising walls of the Jewish theatrical syndicates in order to give the public the impression that these feeble lantern-lights were in the highest heaven of dramatic achievement.
The trick is a department store trick. It is sheer advertising strategy. The "stars" of yesterday, who did not even survive yesterday were either the personal favorites of the managers, or goods taken off the shelf and heaped into the window for the sake of giving the appearance of a new stock. In brief, whereas in normal times the public made the "star" by their acclaim, nowadays the Jewish managers determine by their advertisements who the star shall be. The "New York stamp," which frequently means nothing at all, is the one imperial sign of favor, according to the Jewish theatrical hierarchy/ It is just this "New York stamp" that the rest of the country protests against; and the "little theater" movement throughout the West and Central West is a significant protest.
A Mary Anderson or a Julia Marlowe would be impossible under the Jewish system. They were disciples of art, who later became artists, and then were rightfully acclaimed as stars. But their development was a tedious process. Their fame was based on the rising approval of the people, year after year. These actresses put in season after season traveling the same circuit, learning little by little, rounding out their work. They did not have nor did they seek the "New York stamp"; they worked first for the approval of the people of "the provinces," which is the contemptuous Jewish term for the rest of the United States. There was, however, no Jewish dictatorship of the Theater when Mary Anderson and Julia Marlowe were building their art and careers; which throws a light on the reason for there being no Mary Andersons or Julia Marlowes coming up to the succession.
The Jew seeks immediate success in all but racial affairs. In this breakdown of the Gentile theater, the process cannot be too swift for him. The training of artists takes time. It is far simpler to have the advertising bills serve as a substitute and, as the itinerant faker-dentist had a brass band blare loud enough to drown the anguished cries of his victims, so the Jewish manager seeks to divert attention from the dramatic poverty of the Theater by throwing confetti, limbs, lingerie and spangles dazzlingly into the eyes of his audience.
These three results of Jewish control in the Theater are all explainable by a fourth; the secret of the serious exchange that has occurred since 1885 is found in the Jewish tendency to commercialize everything it touches. The focus of attention has been shifted from the Stage to the box office. The banal policy of "give the public what they want" is the policy of the panderer, and it entered the American Theater with the first Jewish invasion.
About 1885 two alert Jews established in New York a so-called booking agency and offered to take over the somewhat cumbersome system by which managers of theaters in St. Louis, Detroit or Omaha arranged engagements of attractions for their houses for the ensuing season. The old process involved extensive correspondence with producing managers in the East and many local managers were obliged to spend several months in New York to make up a season's bookings. The advantages were that the booking agency, supplied with a list of the "open dates" of the houses they represented, were able to lay out a complete season's itinerary, or "route," for a traveling company and enabled the producer of a play to spend his vacation at the seashore instead of passing the sultry mid-season in New York, while the local manager was saved the trouble of much writing or even a trip East, and was content to let the booking concern attend to all details and send him his next season's bookings when completed.
In this manner was laid the foundation of the later-day Theatrical Trust. The booking firm was that of Klaw & Erlanger, the former a young Jew from Kentucky who had studied law, but drifted into theatrical life as an agent; the latter a young Jew from Cleveland with little education but with experience as an advance agent.
The booking system was not of their devising. They borrowed the idea from Harry C. Taylor who established a sort of theatrical exchange where producers and local managers could meet, desks being provided them at a small rental, and who took over the booking in the smaller cities, without foreseeing - but probably scorning - the opportunity thus placed in his hands to club the whole theatrical world into submission to his dictates.
With characteristic shrewdness Klaw & Erlanger elaborated the idea they had borrowed from Taylor, opened competition against the latter and enlisted the support of a number of young Jewish advance agents who were beginning to recognize the lucrative opportunities that the theatrical profession afforded. Prominent among their earlier supporters was Charles Frohman, employed by J. H. Haverley. His brother, Daniel, had been business manager for the mallorys at the Madison Square Theater since 1881, and though the Frohmans stand out in relief from the background of the Polish Jewish influence on the theater, they found it to their advantage to co-operate with the booking firm and subsequently became prominent members of the Trust.
The establishment of the Jewish booking agency system is the key to the whole problem of the decline of the American stage. The old booking system had the enormous advantage of the personal touch in the relationship between manager and company, and made possible the development of genius in accordance with the organic laws that determine nurture, growth and fruition. Except in its highest form, acting is not an art; but heaven-born genius is no more vocal in an Edwin Booth without long training than a Bonaparte is necessarily a world conqueror without the technique of the artillery school. These two thoughts have the utmost bearing on giving the Jews the control of the theater.
There being no "syndicate," no pooling, among the Gentile managers of the 80's, they presented their stars or other attractions at rival theaters in competition as individual offerings, and at the end of a reasonable New York run, not forced for "road consumption," took their companies on a tour of the country. The manager's whole investment was probably tied up in his enterprise. He thus became a part of his group of artists, sharing their hardships of travel, their joys and sorrows. If business was good they shared the satisfaction; if otherwise, it was sink or swim for one as well as the other. In those days much was heard about troupes traveling "on their trunks." The stories were not exaggerated, but life had its better side, too. The manager and the actor were daily companions; there was a mutual absorption of ideas; the manager learned to know and appraise the "artistic temperament" - which is a tangible asset when not a form of artificial grouch or congenital ill-nature - and to respect the actor's point of view, while, reciprocally, the actor was able to place himself in the manager's position and to get his point of view from close personal affiliation.