The Empire Theatre
New York City Broadway Painting by Peter Turgeon
The Empire Theatre
The Empire Theatre
The Empire Theatre The Empire Theatre
The Empire Theatre The Empire Theatre The Empire Theatre
Peter Turgeon (1919-2000)
The Empire Theatre
American: 1954
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated lower right
30 x 26 inches, stretcher
34.5 x 30.5 inches in wood frame
Price on Request

A bustling New York City street scene of in the 1940s, centered on the Empire Theatre in the Broadway, theatre district. The Empire Theatre marquee advertises Life with Father, co-starring Howard Lindsay (1889-1968) and Dorothy Stickney (1900-1998), who originated the roles of Father and Vinnie. The view, painted in 1954, is a nostalgic look back the year after the theater had been demolished. It is rendered in affectionate detail in a folk art style from a vantage point overlooking the corner of 40th Street and Broadway. On the busy streets, theatregoers are shown making their way to a matinee performance of Life with Father. The painting also illustrates the neighboring bakery, dry goods store and newsstand; a policeman directing traffic; delivery trucks and a city bus; and skyscrapers in the distance under a blue sky. Turgeon, who began his theatrical career in 1940 in the touring production of Life with Father, made the painting nine years after its last performance at the Empire Theatre.

The Empire Theatre, formerly located in the New York City theater district at 1430 Broadway near 40th Street, was built in 1893. It was one of the most beloved Broadway theaters of its era, housing the hit plays Life with Father (opening 1939) and Member of the Wedding (opening 1950). Life with Father was an extremely popular production, running for over 3,200 performances at three different theaters between 1939 and 1947.

Peter Turgeon was a painter of New York City genre scenes and marine subjects whose primary career was in the theater as an actor, writer and director. After serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II, returned to acting. He performed in several plays on and off Broadway during the 1950s and 1960s, mostly comedies and musicals, including A Thurber Carnival, Send Me No Flowers, and Little Me. He also appeared in film and television in a wide range of roles from 1950 to 1989, from voicing a ghost on the soap opera Dark Shadows, to playing roles in the movies Airport, Dear Heart and American Gigolo. In his later years he worked as a writer, director and actor at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut, and at the John Drew Theater in East Hampton, New York.

Condition: Generally very good, recently professionally restored, cleaned and revarnished.  Few minor holes in canvas repaired in back without relining.  Original stretcher with usual oxidation and shrinkage.  Original frame, apparently refinished, with usual wear and shrinkage.

References:

"Demolished Broadway Theatres: E to F." Musicals101.com. 5 September 2013. http://www.musicals101.com/bwaypast2.htm#Empire (14 October 2013).

"Life with Father." Internet Broadway Database. 2001-2013. http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=1720 (14 October 2013).

"Peter Turgeon." Internet Broadway Database. 2001-2013. http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=95206 (14 October 2013).

"Peter Turgeon." Internet Movie Database. 1990-2013. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0877069/ (14 October 2013).

"Peter Turgeon, 80, Stage and Screen Actor." New York Times. 15 October 2000. Online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/10/15/nyregion/peter-turgeon-80-stage-and-screen-actor.html (14 October 2013).


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