Larney Goodkind Papers Document Careers of African American Performers

“My manager and friend Larney Goodkind was leaving no stone unturned to develop my career. He knew, better than most, that there was no clear path for me. He was forever promoting me for roles in the theater and encouraging my club dates, yet still reminding me that I had a gift for greater things. He knew music, and he believed in me.”

R to L: Larney Goodkind, Charles Moses of the Australian Broad- casting Commission, William Warfield , and an unidentified man, 1950.

R to L: Larney Goodkind, Charles
Moses of the Australian Broad-
casting Commission, William
Warfield , and an unidentified
man, 1950.

That is how concert singer and actor William Warfield described his long-time manager, Larney Goodkind, in his 1991 autobiography, William Warfield: My Music & My Life. The working relationship and friendship between Warfield and Goodkind is chronicled throughout the book and has long been documented in the William Warfield papers housed at the Amistad Research Center. However, the Center is pleased to announce that, in addition to the Warfield papers, Amistad has added the Larney Goodkind papers to its collections related to African American concert and operatic performers.

The Goodkind papers measure over 11 linear feet and shed light on Goodkind’s efforts to promote Warfield’s career as an international performer. The collection includes correspondence, concert programs and stage bills, concert reviews, photographs, contracts, biographical sketches, scrapbooks, certificates and awards, press releases, and sound recordings of Warfield performances, including his 1950 New York City debut. The career of Leontyne Price, Warfield’s wife and fellow performer, under Goodkind’s management is also documented in the collection.

Correspondence dates from 1950 through the 1970s, and consists of letters from Warfield to Goodkind concerning performances, touring, and recordings, with some being written while Warfield was on tour. Letters are also present from various individuals to Warfield and Goodkind, which pertain to performances by Warfield, as well as teaching positions in music schools.

William Warfield performs at the Regal Cinema in Lahore, Pakistan, January 1958.

William Warfield performs at the
Regal Cinema in Lahore, Pakistan,
January 1958.

The collection is extremely rich in visual documentation of Warfield’s career, as well as that of Leontyne Price to a lesser extent. Photographs of performances around the world, dating from 1950 into the 1970s, include tours of Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia, as well as numerous performances in the United States. Of note are over 40 photographic images of Warfield taken by Carl Van Vechten in 1951 and 1954, including one on which Van Vechten noted in pencil: “This is the best photograph I ever made of anybody.” A number of photographs taken of Warfield and Price’s 1952 wedding are also included. Throughout, Warfield and Price are photographed with numerous individuals in the music and entertainment world, as well as others, including: Edgar Bergen, Leonard Bernstein, Joe E. Brown, Cab Calloway, Marge and Gower Champion, Aaron Copland, Robert Fossi, Ava Gardner, Catherine Grayson, Howard Keel, Otto Klemperer, Nicoli Malko, Lemuel Mathewson, David Poleri, Eleanor Roosevelt, Lanny Ross, Dore Schary, Zachary Solov, George Sydney, Yves Tinayre, Bruno Walter, and others.

Scrapbook from William Warfield's 1950 tour of Australia.

Scrapbook from William
Warfield’s 1950 tour
of Australia.

Of note in the collection is a scrapbook of Warfield’s 1950 tour of Australia and a file on his 25th anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall in 1975. News clippings, programs of performances, press releases, and biographical information for Warfield and Price are also present. The Larney Goodkind papers are a wonderfully rich addition to Amistad’s music-related holdings, and will be organized in time for an exhibition focusing on the Center’s operatic and classical music collections in 2015.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Images from the Larney Goodkind papers. May not be reproduced without permission.)

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