The Hammersteins: A Musical Theatre Family
“[Oscar Hammerstein I] was a pioneer. He brought the theater into the square; the theater brought the movie palaces, the restaurants, the cheap and flashy, the vulgar and tawdry, cheek by jowl with the expensive and swellegant entertainments and the big, bright display signs that have constituted an electrifying light extravaganza.”
-The New York Times, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Times Square
The Hammersteins is the unprecedented biography of Broadway’s most influential and creative family as told by Oscar Andy Hammerstein.
The story begins in 1864 when Oscar Hammerstein I emigrates to America, establishes himself as a successful cigar merchant and turns his attention to the business of music and theatres. He builds many theatres, including New York’s most majestic opera house. He turns Times Square (then Longacre Square) into the theatre capital of the world.
His sons, Willy and Arthur, carry on the tradition and nurture such talents as Will Rogers, W.C. Fields, Al Jolson, Houdini, and Charlie Chaplin. Willy’s son, Oscar II, becomes the most successful lyricist of all time, writing the story and words to the most memorable of Broadway shows including Showboat, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Carousel, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. Oscar II synthesized the previous two generations’ efforts to create what we now know as American musical theatre. The accomplishments of the Hammersteins are monumental–their tale enchanting.
Written by Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein (Oscar II’s grandson), The Hammersteins presents a multi-layered portrait of the Hammerstein family, complete with personal and professional highlights, as well as the scandals and tragedies. The book also draws heavily upon family archives, presenting a rich collection of photographs, theatre blueprints, programs, patents, and more, much of which has never before been seen.
~The Hammersteins is at once a deeply personal story of an American family living the American dream and a celebration of musical theatre in this country.~
About the Author
Oscar Andrew Hammerstein is a painter, writer, lecturer, and family historian. He has devoted much of his life to studying and preserving his family’s heritage and their contribution to American culture. He lectures frequently at universities, institutes, and theatrical and civic organizations on the Hammerstein family’s pivotal role in shaping the development of musical theatre and popular entertainment in this country from the 1860s to the present. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia University teaching graduate level New York City theatre history. He lives in South Salem, New York.