Max Gordon (1892-1978)

Max Gordon Photo Portrain, Broadway Producer

Max Gordon

Max Gordon was the youngest son of Polish immigrants.  He started a vaudeville agency; then went into production with Albert Lewis, working under the name Lewis and Gordon.  One of his early shows was a co-production of the stage play of The Jazz Singer (1925).  Gordon lost everything as a result of the stock market crash in 1929, including his production company.  With the help of friends, he started producing musicals in 1930, with three Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz shows.  The first was entitled Three’s a Crowd (1930.32), which opened one day after George Gershwin’s Girl Crazy.  Three’s a Crowd ran for 271 performances; Girl Crazy for 272 performances.  The second show with Schwartz and Dietz, with sketches by George S. Kaufman, was The Band Wagon (1931.16), which ran for 260 performances; the third Schwartz and Dietz show followed (Flying Colors, 1932.17), which ran for 188 performances.

Cover Art for the New World Records Recording/Restoration of ROBERTA

Roberta

Gordon returned to producing plays, with the occasional musical thrown in.  He produced the last three Jerome Kern shows on Broadway (The Cat and the Fiddle, 1931.37; Roberta, 1933.26; and Very Warm for May, 1939.28), which ran for 395 performances, 295 performances and fifty-nine performances, respectively.

Gordon produced Cole Porter’s delightful Jubilee (1935.14) with a book by Moss Hart, which ran for 169 performances.

Portrait and Promotional Photograph of Judy Holliday

Judy Holliday

Gordon’s financial well-being was helped by the production of plays, including Dodsworth (1933,  315 performances); Her Master’s Voice (1933, 224 performances); Pride and Prejudice (1935, 219 performances); The Women (1936, 657 performances); My Sister Eileen (1940, 864 performances); The Late George Apley (1944, 384 performances); Garson Kanin’s Born Yesterday (1946, a Judy Holliday hit that ran for 1642 performances); and Howard Teichmann/George Kaufman’s The Solid Gold Cadillac (1953, another Holliday hit that ran for 526 performances).  

How does one know if a producer has good instincts?  One way of determining this is whether the producer has successful runs with many, different playwrights; the second way to know is by determining how many of the plays he produced were optioned to films.  In Gordon’s case, we can see that the total number of performances was remarkable.  Furthermore, almost all of the listed shows were later turned into movies.