SIGNED BY PAUL NEWMAN IN HIS SECOND BROADWAY ROLE, ALONGSIDE KARL MALDEN AND TEN ORIGINAL CAST MEMBERS: RARE ASSOCIATION FIRST EDITION OF THE DESPERATE HOURS, 1955, IN ORIGINAL DUST JACKET
(NEWMAN, Paul) (MALDEN, Karl) HAYES, Joseph. The Desperate Hours. New York: Random House, 1955. Octavo, original gray cloth with photographic illustration mounted on front board, original dust jacket. $4500.
First edition of a rare association copy of Hayes' drama that premiered on Broadway on February 10, 1955, signed on the dedication page by Paul Newman, Karl Malden and fellow original cast members, Judson Pratt, Nancy Coleman, Malcolm Brodrick, Patricia Peardon, George Grizzard, George Mathews, Fred Eisley, Wyrley Birch, Rusty Lane and Mary Orr, along with signatures of co-producer Howard Erskine and production personnel Howard Whitfield, William Weaver, Joe Bishop, Marian Byram (on the cast page), and actors Gene Blakely and Frank Overton. This is Birch's copy, with his ownership signature; also with publisher's laid-in presentation card printed, "With the compliments of Bennett Cerf."
Based on the novel of the same name by Joseph Hayes, Desperate Hours starred Newman in only his second appearance on Broadway following his debut in Picnic. The play, which also featured lead roles by Karl Malden and Nancy Coleman, opened in Philadelphia in January 1955 before moving to New York for its Broadway premiere at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in February. Its director Robert Montgomery "hadn't wanted Newman… 'Montgomery and I never saw eye to eye on any particular thing,' Newman confessed… More deeply, he declared that he never had a handle on the character of Glenn Griffin… 'We got it up on its feet too fast'… But Desperate Hours was a sensation… and Newman was especially lauded." In Philadelphia critics uniformly praised "Newman—still on-screen in Silver Chalice… as a standout. In New York the notices were even better: 'Paul Newman plays the boss thug with a wildness that one is inclined to respect,' wrote Brooks Atkinson in the New York Times… it wound up winning Tony Awards for best play and best direction" (Levy, Paul Newman: A Life).
This rare association copy is signed on the dedication page by Newman, Malden and Coleman, along with actors Malcolm Brodrick (Ralphie Hilliard), Patricia Peardon (Cindy Hilliard), George Grizzard (Hank Griffin), George Mathews (Robish), Fred Eisley (Chuck Wright), Wyrley Birch (Mr. Patterson), Rusty Lane (Lt. Carl Fredericks), Mary Orr (Miss Swift), Judson Pratt (Tom Winston), Gene Blakely (Harry Carson) and Frank Overton. On the same page are signatures of co-producer Howard Erskine, stage manager William Weaver, production stage manager Howard Whitfield and assistant stage manager Joe Bishop. The signatures of press representative Marian Byram and wardrobe mistress Rose Caully appear on the cast page; owner inscription of actor Wyrley Birch in block printing on initial blank. "First Printing" stated on copyright page. With double-page photographic frontispiece and four full-page photographic illustrations from the original Broadway production. With original Playbill for New York's Ethel Barrymore Theatre, where the play had its premiere on February 10, 1955. Accompanying this copy is a laid-in presentation card printed, "With the compliments of Bennett Cerf." Cerf, of course, was the co-founder of Random House, the publisher of the present volume.
Evidence of tape to front endpapers and publisher's presentation card, which was taped to the front free endpaper, likely by Birch. Book with slightly toned spine, very faint foxing to preliminaries. Dust jacket with two tiny chips to upper corner, mild dust soiling and toning to spine. Very good condition, most desirable with this collection of signatures.