Edward Franklin Albee II
Edward Franklin Albee II (October 8, 1857 – March 11, 1930) was a vaudeville
Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill...

An impresario is a person who organizes and often finances concerts, plays or operas; analogous to a film producer in filmmaking, television production and an angel investor in business...

, and the adoptive grandfather of Edward Franklin Albee III
Edward Albee
Edward Franklin Albee III is an American playwright who is best known for The Zoo Story , The Sandbox , Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , and a rewrite of the screenplay for the unsuccessful musical version of Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's . His works are considered well-crafted, often...

, the playwright.


He was born on October 8, 1857 in Machias, Maine to Nathaniel Smith Albee.

He toured with P. T. Barnum
P. T. Barnum
Phineas Taylor Barnum was an American showman, businessman, scam artist and entertainer, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the circus that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus....

 as a ticket collector, then in 1885 he partnered with Benjamin Franklin Keith
Benjamin Franklin Keith
Benjamin Franklin Keith was an American vaudeville theatre owner, highly influential in the evolution of variety theater into vaudeville.-Early years:...

 in operating the Boston Bijou Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1885 Reed married Lora S., and he had the following children: Reed A. Albee
Reed A. Albee
-Biography:He was born on September 8, 1885 in Boston, Massachusetts to Edward Franklin Albee II and Laurette Frances Smith. He had a sister: Ethel Albee .Reed married Louise Holmes Williams, an actress, on June 10, 1914. They divorced on February 26, 1925....

 (1886–1961); and Ethel Albee (1890-?). With the success of their business, it grew into the Keith-Albee theatre circuit of vaudeville theatres. Albee gradually took managerial control of Keith's theatrical circuit. They were the first to introduce moving pictures in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...


Albee was president of the United Bookings Office from its formation in 1900 or 1906. Albee had most of the major vaudeville circuits give him control of their theatrical bookings where he charged acts a 5% commission.

When performers tried to form a union, he set up National Vaudeville Artists and made membership in it a requirement for booking through his company. His partner Keith died in Palm Beach, Florida
Palm Beach, Florida
The Town of Palm Beach is an incorporated town in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. The Intracoastal Waterway separates it from the neighboring cities of West Palm Beach and Lake Worth...

 in 1914.

He formed the Keith-Albee-Orpheum
The Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation was the owner of a chain of vaudeville and motion picture theatres. It was formed by the merger of the holdings of Benjamin Franklin Keith and Edward Franklin Albee II and Martin Beck's Orpheum Circuit, Inc..-History:...

 on January 28, 1928 with Joseph P. Kennedy. Radio Corporation of America bought his company and formed RKO Pictures
RKO Pictures
RKO Pictures is an American film production and distribution company. As RKO Radio Pictures Inc., it was one of the Big Five studios of Hollywood's Golden Age. The business was formed after the Keith-Albee-Orpheum theater chains and Joseph P...

 and turned the Orpheum vaudeville circuit into a chain of movie theaters.

Albee died on March 11, 1930 at the Breakers Hotel
Breakers Hotel
The Breakers Hotel is an historic hotel in Palm Beach, Florida, United States. First known as The Palm Beach Inn, it was opened on January 16, 1896 by Henry Flagler, an oil, real estate and railroad tycoon, to accommodate travelers on his Florida East Coast Railway...

 in Palm Beach, Florida
Palm Beach, Florida
The Town of Palm Beach is an incorporated town in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. The Intracoastal Waterway separates it from the neighboring cities of West Palm Beach and Lake Worth...



The United Bookings Office had such an all-powerful control on vaudevillians' careers that Groucho Marx
Groucho Marx
Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx was an American comedian and film star famed as a master of wit. His rapid-fire delivery of innuendo-laden patter earned him many admirers. He made 13 feature films with his siblings the Marx Brothers, of whom he was the third-born...

 referred to it as "Albee's personal Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...


When a friend asked comedian Joe Frisco
Joe Frisco
Joe Frisco was an American vaudeville performer who first made his name on stage as a jazz dancer, but later incorporated his stuttering voice to his act and became a popular comedian.Born Louis Wilson Joseph...

 to explain all the street construction that was going on around them, Frisco replied, "Albee's kid lost his ball, so they're tearing up the street to find it."

Further reading

  • New York Times; March 16, 1930. THRONG AT FUNERAL OF EDWARD F. ALBEE; Notables of Stage and Other Fields at Services in Cathedral of St. John.BISHOP MANNING PRESIDES Cathedral Clergy Assist in Impressive Requlem -- 700 Theatres Pay Tribute to Former Head. The Honorary Pallbearers. Some of Those Present. Tribute at 700 Theatres. Vaudeville stars, old-time luminaries of the stage, vaudeville executives from cities far West as Chicago, people connected in every conceivable way with the stage and many others paid homage yesterday morning to Edward F. Albee, former ...
  • New York Times; March 23, 1930. E.F. ALBEE: CO-FOUNDER OF VAUDEVILLE; Long Head of a Large Amusement Enterprise, He Was Among the Most Untheatrical of Managers. The late Edward Franklin Albee, co-founder of vaudeville. As an American amusement institution and for half a century a manager, was, without doubt, one or the most untheatrical of the theatre's overlords. His funeral services ...
  • Time; June 8, 1931. Bu the [National Variety Artists' Club in West 46th Street in Manhattan] club has always run an annual deficit. For years Edward Franklin Albee variety tycoon (Keith-Albee), footed the losses until his death in 1930."

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