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RG1755.AM:  “Nebraskans in Film” Project

Records and Research Materials:  1980-1982

Omaha, Douglas County, Neb.:  Study and presentation of Nebraskans’ contribution to film

Size:  0.75 cu. ft.


In November 1980, the “Nebraskans in Film” project submitted a proposal to the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities for a grant to research Nebraskaís contribution to American film history. Initially, the project intended to use grant money to produce a half-hour filmed documentary.

In January 1981, the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities funded the project with a $5,000 gift and with a promise of $10,000 more if matching funds could be raised. The money was raised and the Project started with $25,000 in its treasury.

Oral history interviews began in December 1980 and several interviews of stars, their relatives, friends, and mentors continued over the next two years. From these, thirteen half-hour shows on various topics were produced and were broadcast over Omaha channels 26 (KYNE) and 3 (KMTV). Essays and several of the shows’ topics were also completed and serve as companion pieces to the television series, which was entitled “Midwest Roots-Hollywood Dreams.”


This collection consists of two boxes of manuscript material arranged in six series: 1) Administrative Records, 1981-1982; 2) Manuscripts; 3) Research Subjects; 4) Interviews, 1980-1981; 5) Programs, 1982; and 6) Miscellany. This material relates to the research topics studied and programs produced by the “Nebraskans in Film” project.

The administrative records, 1981-1982 of Series 1 include progress and final reports submitted to the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities by the “Nebraskans in Film” Project. Also included are examples of publicity generated by the project and TV Classroom materials used in conjunction with the programs.

Series 2 consists of thirteen manuscripts written as companion pieces to the thirteen-episode production of “Midwest Roots-Hollywood Dreams.” Film historians who participated in the project wrote some of these essays, while graduate students at the University of Nebraska Omaha wrote others.

The Research Subjects of Series 3 are arranged topically. Included are photocopies of research materials, mostly from secondary sources.

The Interviews of Series 4 relate to Henry Fonda, the Brandos, Dorothy McGuire, the Omaha Playhouse, early movies in Nebraska, Robert Taylor, Black films in Nebraska, and Harry Langdon. Some interviews are in typescript form only. A few of the taped interviews have been transcribed. All tapes and transcriptions of tapes are part of the audio component of the collection (RG1755.AU). Please ask a Reference staff member for assistance with the audio component.

Series 5 is comprised of the thirteen half-hour programs produced by the “Nebraskans in Film” project entitled, “Midwest Roots-Hollywood Dreams.” These programs are on videocassette and are part of the moving image component of the collection (RG1755.MI). Please ask a Reference staff member for assistance with the moving image component.

Series 6 consists of miscellaneous interviews conducted by Bernard Timberg which appeared in Film and Video Monthly in 1981-1982.

Photographs have been transferred to the photo component of the collection (RG1755.PH). Please ask a Reference staff member for assistance with the photographs.

Copyright to material in this collection belongs to Nebraskans in Film, Inc. Written consent by Nebraskans in Film, Inc. is required for any publication or broadcast use of this material. A copy of the special license agreement with Mabel Langdon over Langdon material is contained in the Harry Langdon file, S.3, f.9.


Series 1 – Administrative Records, 1981-1982

Box 1


  1. Progress Report, May 28, 1981

  2. Nebraska’s Legacy to Film: Final Report to the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities on the Nebraskans in Film Research and Script Development Project, Dec. 31, 1981

  3. Publicity

  4. TV Classroom

Series 2 – Manuscripts

Box 1


  1. Introduction: “Contributions to Early Film History” by Bernard Timberg

  2. “The Golden Age Of Omaha Theatre” by Roxanne Owens Henderson

  3. “The Films of Buffalo Bill” by Vance Nelson

  4. “The Lincoln Motion Picture Company” by Olive Graham

  5. “Women in Film-Spotlight: Alice Guy Blache, by Renee Crosby

  6. “Martha Groves McKelvie, Movie Publicist” by Diana Stanzel

  7. “Midwest Roots and the Hollywood Stars: Recovering the Lost Territory of the Mind” by Bernard Timberg.

  8. “The Nebraska Roots of Harold Lloyd” by Roger Catlin

  9. “I was a Punk Kid from Nebraska: The Early Life of Robert Tayler” by Jon Weaver

  10. “Henry Fonda: The Movie Star, the Man, and the Midwest” by Thomas Schatz

  11. “The Dreamland Waltz: Fred Astaire’s Childhood Career” by John Weaver

  12. “Premiere Fever” by Leonard J. Leff

  13. Conclusion

Series 3 – Research Subjects

Box 1


  1. General: Nebraska and the Movies

  2. Theatre Buildings

  3. Johnny Carson

  4. Montgomery Clift

  5. Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wounded Knee Film

  6. Hoot Gibson

  7. Leland Heyward

  8. Georgianna Higgins, early movie exhibitor in Crawford, Nebraska

  9. Harry Langdon

  10. Harold Lloyd

  11. Dorothy McGuire

  12. Martha Groves McKelvie

  13. Wright Morris

Box 2


  1. Joan Micklin Silver

  2. Robert Taylor

  3. Annetta Whipple, traveling movie exhibitor

  4. Darryl Zanuck

  5. Ward Bond

Series 4 – Interviews, 1980-1981

Box 2


  1. Jocelyn Brando (typescript)

  2. Frances Brando Loving (typescript)

  3. Josh Logan on Henry Fonda (typescript)

  4. Mildred Natwick on Henry Fonda (typescript)

  5. James Stewart – Summary of Interview about Henry Fonda

  6. Dorothy McGuire (typescript)

  7. Betty Szold on the Omaha Playhouse (typescript)

Note: The following AV1 items are part of the audio component.

Tape AV1 Item

  1. Annetta Whipple on Early Movies in Nebraska, 1898-1928 (transcribed)

  2. Mary Ellen Inglis Farries on Robert Taylor (transcribed)

  3. Thomas Schatz on Henry Fonda

  4. Bernard Timberg on the “Nebraskans in Film” project

  5. George P. Johnson on the Lincoln Motion Picture Company and Early Black Films in Nebraska

  6. Mabel Langdon on Harry Langdon (special restriction)

Series 5 – Programs, 1982

Box 2


  1. Inventory to Programs

Note: The following AV2 items are part of the moving image component.

Videocassette (AV2, SG1, Item 171)

Early Theater in the Midwest, Part 1: The Movie Palaces

Early Theater in the Midwest, Part 2

Early History of the Omaha Playhouse, Part 1

Early History of the Omaha Playhouse, Part 2

Videocassette (AV2, SG1, Item 172)

Buffalo Bill and the Movies

Omaha’s Black Motion Picture Company

Women in Early Film

Harry Langdon and Harold Lloyd: Comic Characters from Mid-America

Videocassette (AV2, SG1, Item 173)

Fred Astaire, Robert Taylor, Marlon Brando

Fonda, Part 1

Fonda, Part 2

Hollywood Premieres in the Midwest

Videocassette (AV2, SG1, Item 174)

Series Highlights and Summary

Series 6 – Miscellany

Box 2


  1. Interviews conducted by Bernard Timberg which appeared in Film and Video Monthly, 1981-1982


03-31-2007   TMM/tmm