In the summer of 2003, we at the 'Harvey' Web site were overjoyed to receive a message and several images from Larry E. Gundersen, who remembered yet another famous Elwood:
Larry wrote: “The excellent actor Joe E. Brown was Elwood Dowd in the road company of “Harvey,” and played this part literally thousands of times. Having been born in northwestern Ohio (Holgate, Ohio) and having run away from home (reputedly with his parents' blessing) at the age of 10 to join the circus as a tumbler, he had no formal education of note. But he adopted Bowling Green State University (BGSU - in Bowling Green, Ohio) as his "alma mater," and they welcomed him.
“In1960, Brown came to BGSU to present two "farewell" performances of one of his favorite roles. I attended one of those performances and was entranced by his believability in this role. After the final curtain call for the evening, but before the audience had left, he came back onto the stage, dragging a metal folding chair. He turned the chair backwards, sat down facing the audience leaning on the back of the chair, and talked about his life, the major place this play and his role it had played in his life. He fielded a few questions and grudgingly quit this informal epilogue after 25-30 minutes, as I remember it.
“As part of this epilogue he explained that he this would be his last two performances of this role. And as such, he was donating to BGSU, his outfit/suit, and the very large painting of himself standing next to Harvey. They were to be displayed in the new (then) theater at the university. I believe he also, quietly, provided the university theater department with some significant monetary support.
“Some ten or so years later, I heard that one of the seemingly biennial Malibu, California, fires had destroyed his home. I believe this prompted his reviving his portrayal of Elwood Dowd to earn money to rebuild his home, a few years before his death in 1973.
“Thanks for the site, the wonderful memories it triggered for me.” --
Larry E. Gundersen
The nine images above and below were donated to this "Harvey" site by Larry E. Gundersen, and we want to express our gratitude to him for his time, dedication and kindness. The images depict the program and a flyer insert for the 1960 BGSU production of “Harvey,” along with a business-card-sized handout (above) used for the production, as well as pages from the Bowling Green State University yearbook, the "Key," for 1960, that were devoted to Joe E Brown and Harvey.
** CLICK on images for FULL-SCALE photos! **
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