[Four c.1910s Autograph Letters Signed from Edward Haas Robins, American Stage and Film Actor, Canadian Film Producer, and Leader of The Robins Players Theater Company].
On the road with The Robins Players
Edward Haas Robins, Actor
In 1880, American stage and film actor Edward Haas Robins was born as Edward Haas in Shamokin, Pennsylvania. Around 1909, after a stint acting with the Bush Temple stock company in Chicago, Robins made his debut on the New York stage.
Robins appeared in the play The Easiest Way, directed by the legendary theatrical producer and impresario, David Belasco (1853–1931). In 1911, Robins was elected to membership in “The Lambs,” the first American professional theatrical club.
Robins’ letters discuss theatrical and acting matters; all are addressed to “Jim,” possibly a fellow actor in The Robins Players. Robins writes:
Enclosed article may interest you. Stanley of Stanley & Bosworth [Toronto tailors and outfitters] sent it to me. he says business is good in Toronto. Let’s arrange something as soon as possible, am not very well and am awfully worried. [Canadian-born Broadway actress] Margaret Anglin and [American Broadway actress] Blanche Bates both sent for me last week for the leading parts in their new plays but found I was too young to play opposite them. It’s just one thing after the other and I am getting much discouraged.
Writing from Toronto to “Jim,” Robins begins:
Enclosed find draft for $600. All I can spare. It leaves me with 352 in the bank with everything paid to date. Fair advance for the week. … Big time last night. Play went very well. … For goodness sake get the next play here on time.
One letter may refer either to Robins being released from a contract or that he is being called to mount a new production:
Things all right here. They are going to let me go. Have to arrange about transportation in the morning. They have been calling me up.
This collection of four undated letters handwritten by Edward Haas Robins appear to have been written in the 1910s. Three of the letters are written on “The Lambs” club letterhead. The fourth letterhead, that of the Toronto office of The Robins Players and likely from 1915, lists Robins as vice president of The Beury Feature Film Company.
Previously, in 1914, Robins had co-founded the Conness-Till Film Company. Robins got American theatrical promoter Luke E. Conness, Toronto investor Louis A. Till, and Philadelphia financiers James P. and Charles E. Beury to invest in a film studio for the Canadian market. Conness-Till films. with Canadian content and written by Canadian writers, enabled them to compete with imported films.
The Beury brothers took over the company in 1915, retaining Robins as an actor and vice-president. The studio was re-named The Beury Feature Film Company. The studio was destroyed by fire that same year.
Later Stage and Film Careers of Edward Haas Robins
Robins remained a member of “The Lambs” until his death in 1955. He continued to act on Broadway into the 1930s and between 1935 and 1937 appeared in five feature films. His films include the romantic comedy It Happened in Paris (1935), co-directed by Carol Reed and Robert Wyler, and the drama Exclusive (1937), starring Fred MacMurray.
For an excellent article on Robins and Conness-Till see Historicist: Early Cinema, Made in Canada; The ambitious but short-lived Conness-Till movie studio in Swansea.
Description: [Four c.1910s Autograph Letters Signed from Edward Haas Robins, American Stage and Film Actor, Canadian Film Producer, and Leader of The Robins Players Theater Company].
New York and Toronto, c.1910s. Four ALsS. pp in all. One quarto sheet and three small octavo bifoliums. Approx. 8½ x 11 inches and 6¾ x 4¼ inches, respectively. Folds; minor soiling on two letters; overall, very good.
Refs. Edward H. Robins — IMDb accessed online. Fleming, Paul Bern, The Life and Famous Death of the MGM Director and Husband of Harlow (Jefferson, North Carolina, 2009). Gilbert, compiler, Actors and Actresses by Different Writers Compiled from Various Magazines (Chicago, 1909). Lerner, Canadian Film and Video: A Bibliography and Guide to the Literature (Toronto, 1997).