Collection MSS 027 - Harry L. Huret and Ellen Marr Spector Collection

Identity elements

Reference code

US MBE MSS 027

Name and location of repository

Level of description

Collection

Title

Harry L. Huret and Ellen Marr Spector Collection

Date(s)

  • 1928 - 2004 (Creation)

Extent

4.34 linear feet

Name of creator

(1909-1990)

Biographical history

Harry L. Huret was born in Russia in 1909 and moved with his family to New York when he was three years old. Huret’s childhood dream of becoming a composer and lyricist was not fully realized until the age of 38. His love for music began as a small boy when he began piano lessons at the age of ten. Throughout high school he also attended the Institute of Musical Art in New York City which later became Juilliard School of Music. After high school Huret attended City College. Unfortunately, a promising career in music did not seem hopeful so instead Huret enrolled at Fordham Law School. He graduated from law school in 1932 and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1933. However, due to the timing of his graduation during the Great Depression Huret never practiced law. Instead he began work as a clerk in the Civil Court of New York County where he worked for 36 years. It was during his time at the court house that he simultaneously worked on his musical endeavors and practiced his hand at sketching cartoons. He began composing music by adding music to poems that he had written for his wife and children. Even when working as a clerk Huret composed music and would send his songs to performers and producers in hopes of becoming recognized. Accompanying these letters would be sketches of cartoons, which Huret says would catch the attention of the recipients. He found remote success when Sophie Tucker, a show performer asked him to write three songs for her. However, it was not until the composition of the children’s operetta, The Frog Prince in the 1960’s did Huret find considerable success. Chappell Music Company published the book, the play and the accompanying 9 songs. He credits Ellen Spector, a friend and performer (and later the mother-in-law of his son) for encouraging him to focus his talents on writing music for children. Huret is also known for his musical play, “The Hunting Season” and the title song, “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me” written for a film by the same name. Throughout his lifetime he wrote close to 150 songs, poems, short stories and plays. He was also a published cartoonist throughout his lifetime. Harry and his wife Marion retired to Florida in 1971. It was in Florida where Harry began lecturing at Palm Beach Community College, synagogues, churches and other colleges on Broadway musical theater. Harry died on January 27, 1990.

Name of creator

Biographical history

Ellen Marr Spector was born in 1920 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Spector had little formal training in music, but was blessed with a natural ability to read music and carry a tune. She began performing at the age of 8 years old when she auditioned for The Children’s Hour, a radio variety show starring children. She was a series regular until the age of 16. In her teen years she formed a duo with her former costar Norman “Red” Benson. They were known as “The Sweethearts of the Air” and would perform regularly on radio station WCAU. Later they joined with another former costar, Charlie Swier and formed “The Dandies.” They performed in night clubs around Philadelphia. At the age of 22 she married Aaron Spector. She continued singing on the radio but soon gave up her career to raise her two children.

In the 1950s and 1960s her career was reborn in a new form. She began performing at synagogues in professional productions. Her singing and acting career began anew. She also cofounded Phoenix Productions, which performed musicals for children. Spector and her troupe toured around Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. Throughout the summer they would perform weekly at the Shady Grove Music Fair. Spector performed the role of Jingles the clown. In this role, Ellen led the children of the audience into the fantasy world of theatre. One reviewer, in describing her rapport with her young audiences, said, “She can reach out over the audience with invisible fingertips and to each and every little boy and girl until they fall under her friendly spell.” Her involvement with Phoenix Productions would mark the final phase of her career as a performer. Having started as a child performer on a radio show designed for children, it is fitting that her final years as a performer were with a children’s theatre company. She seems to have come full circle, and never wavered from her goal of bringing music and entertainment to audiences of all ages.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection contains materials related to the life of Harry L. Huret and Ellen Marr Spector and the gallery dedicated in their honor. Much of the material relates to Huret’s life and works as a lyricist, composer, cartoonist and lecturer while a subseries is dedicated to Spector’s life and work as a singer and performer. The collection includes photographs, personal and professional correspondence, newspaper clippings, sheet music, lecture notes, original writings, biographical materials, and audio and visual recordings from Huret and Spector’s lives in the music industry. Included in this are Huret’s oral history audio tapes and a CD of Spector’s performances. The materials in the collection range ca. 1928-2004. The bulk of the materials are associated with Huret’s life as a lyricist and composer and Spector’s work with WCAU Horn and Hardart’s Children’s Hour and Phoenix Productions, a children’s theater company. Specifically to Huret are materials relating to the creation of The Frog Prince, Mother Goose Revisited, The Hunting Season and other musical plays and song materials such as sheet music, drafts, and copyright documents. The collection also includes biographical research on Huret and Spector and their familial relationship as well as their common love for musical theater cumulating with the Huret Spector Gallery.

System of arrangement

The collection is arranged in 10 series according to subject.

Series 1: Biographical
Series 2: Musical Plays
Series 3: Plays, Short Stories and Poems.
Series 4: Music
Series 5: Cartoons
Series 6: Professional Correspondence
Series 7: Lectures
Series 8: Ellen Spector
Series 9: Audio and Visual Media
Series 10: Huret Spector Gallery

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

This collection is open to researchers.

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
  • German

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Accruals

Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Related descriptions

Notes element

Alternative identifier(s)

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Sources used

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Accession area