Collection ACC-MSS 016 - Harvey Orkin Collection

Identity elements

Reference code

US MBE ACC-MSS 016

Name and location of repository

Level of description

Collection

Title

Harvey Orkin Collection

Date(s)

  • 1958 - 1975 (Creation)

Extent

0.42 Linear Feet

Name of creator

(1918 -01-12/1975-11-03)

Biographical history

Television writer, theatrical agent, and humorist, Harvey Orkin accomplished a great deal in what turned out to be a short career. Born January 12, 1918 to Russian Jewish immigrants, Orkin’s childhood home found itself buried in debt and sorrow when his father, Jacob, killed himself when he was only 16. His uncle Charlie took him in and introduced him to a life of gambling and cheating tourists on ocean liners. Charlie’s influence is thought by his family to have be a significant factor in Orkin’s journey to becoming a comedy writer. In his twenties he served in the Army as a hospital administrator in the Midwestern area of the United States, which possibly served as a source for his later writing for the Sergeant Bilko show during the 1950s.
At age 34 Orkin married Gisella Svetlik who had worked on Broadway as a dancer and singer. They had two children together who survive them today, Anthony and Jenna Orkin.
As a talent agent during his time working with Creative Management Associates Orkin represented several well-known actors including Peter Sellers and Richard Burton. His many efforts during his career as a writer in television included writing for the Sergeant Bilko show that went on to win an Emmy award. While working as a vice-president for Columbia Pictures in London, Orkin also wrote and performed for the show BBC-3 and wrote a few articles for the London Telegraph. His final work would be the renowned novel, Scuffler, that was published in the last years of his life. In 1974 he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and died a year later on November 3, 1975. Known for his ability as a raconteur, Orkin left behind fond memories for his friends and fans after his death.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The Harvey Orkin Collection predominately contains materials about the latter part of Orkin’s life. As a television writer and talent agent, Orkin corresponded with many known writers and actors such as Peter Sellers, John Cleese, Richard Burton, and Robert Redford. Many of these letters, along with personal correspondence with his family, has been included. Photographs of Orkin and his wife, Gisela Orkin, are also maintained in this collection. Materials authored by Orkin himself such as manuscripts, short stories, and articles published in the London Telegraph magazine. The collection also has several articles about Orkin and his work writing and performing on BBC-3 during his time working for Columbia Pictures Corp. in London, reviews on his novel Scuffler, and three obituaries written shortly after his death on November 3, 1975.

System of arrangement

The collection is grouped according to format and arranged chronologically where dates have been provided.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

The collection is open to researchers. No materials may leave the Emerson College Archives & Special Collections.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Some materials may be subject to copyright. No part of the materials protected by copyright may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the copyright holder. Researchers are required to seek permission from the copyright holder to reproduce and/or publish materials under copyright.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

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Accruals

No further materials are expected.

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Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Harvey Orkin’s correspondence is available online at http://harveyorkin.blogspot.com/ This is a third party website, not maintained or endorsed by Emerson College.

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