Tom Show Publicity

  These six large broadsides from The Billy Rose Theatre Collection help us appreciate how much "Tom Shows" had in common with franchise operations -- and how little advertising may tell us about what any given audience saw in any given Uncle Tom's Cabin Company's performance of the novel. Although almost identical, these six announcements were printed by the Erie Litho Co. for six different companies from three different decades. While the images remain the same, the text in each is slightly different. The one from 1927 (far right) calls itself a "Motion Picture Play" and a "Motion Picture Production." It's not clear what this means. 1927 was the year Universal released its $2 million silent film version of Stowe's story, so the label "Motion Picture" here may just be intended to take advantage of the amount of publicity that film was generating. Or this production may have used clips from pre-1920s film versions along with live actors. (For comparison, see the almost almost identical poster in the archive's UTC AT THE MOVIES section.)
  Click on any of these to view it separately and enlarge the details.

Billy Rose Theatre Collection, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations