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(Theatrical Souvenir: "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep").  Manuscript on paper, in English: "Sleep" [/] Miss Graves's 'Dear Ones.'" [New York]: , 1950. 8vo (25 cm, 9.84"). [5 ff. used (of approx. 100)].

Unique Broadway memento: a celebratory autograph book/friendship volume => presented by Fredric March to his wife Florence Eldridge on the occasion of the opening night of their play "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep." The production was adapted by Elaine Ryan from a novel by Ludwig Bemelmans (best known for his beloved children's books about Madeline) and directed by Hume Cronyn. Clifford Odets was an enthusiastic fan ("one of the best entertainments I've seen in years"), as was Eleanor Roosevelt, who wrote in her diary: "Last evening Miss Thompson and I had the pleasure of dining and going to a play with Henry Morgenthau Jr. and his family. At my request we went to see 'Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep,' with Fredric March and Florence Eldridge. I enjoyed the evening very much . . . The play was fantastic and amusing in spots and serious in others."
        March and Eldridge starred as General Leonidas Erosa and governess Leonora Graves, and => March inscribed this volume to "my Leonora" from "Leonidas" (though the Oscar and Tony winner did also provide his own real signature on the next leaf). Among the other signers were Barbara Bemelmans (Ludwig's daughter), actor-playwright Elliott Nugent, George Nichols III (the show's producer), actress Betty Wharton and her husband the theatre lawyer John F. Wharton, socialite Pamela T. Colin (later Lady Pamela Harlech), New York Times correspondent Delbert Clark (who signed himself "a new friend, perhaps, but nonetheless true"), actress-author Cornelia Otis Skinner, publisher George Macy (who left a charming bit of doggerel), cast member Charlie Chaplin Jr., and many other famous names.
        Binding: Green morocco with unusual partly bevelled edges, front cover framed and panelled in blind and gilt with central blind-stamped diamond medallion in enclosing gilt-stamped decorations; spine with gilt-tooled raised bands, turn-ins with gilt roll, green marbled endpapers and all edges deckle. Binding stamped by London Harness Company, marked "made in Italy."

Bound as above, sunned to varying degrees, leather split at front joint with spine leather lifting from spine, sides scuffed, edges and extremities rubbed. => While only a few leaves of this remarkable volume have been used, what is here is a treasure trove of theatrical association.  (41670)   Please RESHELVE This.

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