Merle Clayton Papers
Scope and Contents
This small collection consists primarily of research materials used by Merle Clayton, author of several local history pieces for San Diego Magazine. The materials consist of paper records, photographs, and several copies of San Diego Magazine. Clayton did a series of pieces on topics in the history of theatre and performing arts in San Diego, and most of this material pertains to that work.
Series I, San Diego Theatre History, consists of research materials on San Diego theatre and performing arts history. Of special note in Series I is the six-year correspondence between Clayton and actress Virginia Brissac, who he interviewed several times in person for a series of articles on her life. Brissac was famous in San Diego during the most active period in its performing arts theater; first with the Savoy Players and World's Fair Stock Company, then founding and managing the Virginia Brissac Company, a stock company which put on a play a week from about 1915 to 1921. She was a star actress there, and went on to star in dozens of films, including Rebel Without A Cause. After work in Hollywood, she appeared again on the San Diego stage beginning in 1935 as an actress with the Savoy Players.
In this series there is one folder of ephemera (including correspondence, performance attendance figures, financial figures, playbills) pertaining to the Strand and Savoy Theatres; and one folder of disparate issues from 1918 and 1919 of The Strand Weekly, a publication put out by Virginia Brissac about the company's work.
Also of special note in Series I are the photographs (circa 1920-1935), of the Savoy Players, which include images of Virginia Brissac, Hayward Nugent, Louise Larabee, Scott Palmer, Jim Palmer, Beula Fair, Hub Wheeler, Isaac McCay, John G. Wray, and many unidentified others. Perhaps the most interesting materials in Series I are the publicity stills and photographs of Julian Eltinge, a local entertainer who was called "the best female impersonator of the twentieth century." Eltinge played various female characters in vaudeville acts, on Broadway, and on screen from about 1910 until about 1935. Clayton wrote an article about Eltinge, who was of local interest for the ranch he kept near Alpine.
Series II, Other Writing, consists of speech drafts, a writing journal, and copies of other articles on topics in early San Diego history.
- Majority of material found in 1970-1973
- Clayton, Merle (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.
0.63 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
I. San Diego Theatre History
II. Other Writing
Source of Acquisition
- Merle Clayton Papers
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note