William Tracy Garber was born in Strasburg, Ohio on January 21, 1928. He acted in school plays before he left for the army. He attended The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. After graduating from Wooster he moved to Fort Worth in 1952 to work on his master degree at Texas Christian University where he was a paid graduate assistant until 1957. He directed many of the plays performed at TCU during this time.
He was a charter member of the Fort Worth Community Theater when it organized in the fall of 1955 along with nine other members. In 1957, he became the first paid member of the Fort Worth Community Theater as manager. He served in this capacity until his retirement in 1993.
He performed and directed many of the productions during his years at the theater. One of his most performed roles was Elwood P. Dowd in “Harvey”. He was also mentor to the founders of other local theatrical groups including Sharon Benge, organizer of Shakespeare in the Park, B. J. Cleveland, artistic director of Theatre Arlington, Jerry Russell of Stage West and Rose Pearson of Circle Theater.
He continued to act after his retirement including as narrator for various Fort Worth Symphony performances. He died on May 8, 2006 in Ohio while on his way back to Texas after attending his 60th high school reunion.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 9 May 2002; Jan L. Jones, Renegades, Showmen & Angels: A Theatrical History of Fort Worth 1873-2001, (Fort Worth, TCU Press, 2006), p. 260-262
The collection was donated to the Library on July 6, 2006, by Jeff Heald.
Scope and Description
The collection consists of 79 boxes (28 linear feet) of materials relating to the Fort Worth Community Theater and the career of William Garber. The collection is arranged into eleven series. The bulk of the materials date from the 1950 until 2006 although a few items date before 1950 especially some materials from Wooster College and a few published plays and programs.
- Series I: Fort Worth Community Theater - This series consist of materials relating to the Fort Worth Community Theater. The Fort Worth Community Theater was organized in the fall of 1955 with ten charter members including William Garber. They first performed at the Majestic Theater until 1957 when they moved to 608 N. Sylvania, an old movie theater. They stayed at this location for nine years until the William Edrington Scott Theater opened in 1966. The Fort Worth Theater ceased to operate in 2002 although there was a brief attempt at revival in 2006.
The most important portion of the series is the production scrapbooks which were originally in binders. The scrapbooks have photographs of the production and the program, not all the scrapbooks had programs. The boxes relating to Press Kits have programs and posed photographs that were provided for publication in newspapers. (30 boxes)
- Series II: Personal - The series consists of one box of miscellaneous personal items and two boxes of materials relating primarily his college courses at Wooster and at TCU. Also, it includes some of his teaching materials. (3 boxes)
- Series III: Photographs - This series consist of primarily of photographs of his various trips and some miscellaneous photographs. Some of the photographs were in albums that were deconstructed and placed in archival safe photographic sleeves. An item of interest is a letter written by John Hillerman, star of Magnum, PI. Hillerman was a friend of Bill Garber and appeared in “Stalag 17” with the community theater group. (2 boxes)
- Series IV: Plays - The series consist of plays that were either autographed or have been edited. The remainders of the published plays were added to the regular book collection. (4 boxes)
- Series V: Programs - The series consist of primarily of the programs of the plays William Garber attended during his life. The majority of the programs are from plays he attended in New York. There is also a collection of programs from some of the local theatrical groups in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Histories of the theatrical groups can be found in Renegades, Showmen & Angels: A Theatrical History of Fort Worth from 1873-2001 by Jan L. Jones. The last box consists of programs from plays that a specific location could not be determined. (21 boxes)
- Series VI: Publications & Typescripts - This series consist of brochures, pamphlets, magazines and newspapers primarily from the local community but includes some items outside of the Fort Worth area. (7 boxes)
- Series VII: Travel - This series consists primarily of travel brochures from his travels around the world. (2 boxes)
- Series VIII: Scrapbooks - The series consists of scrapbooks including a scrapbook honoring his 25th year as director of the Fort Worth Theater. (3 boxes)
- Series IX: Media - This series consists of primarily of videos relating to Fort Worth Theater including videos of the performance of a few plays and videos relating to the history of Fort Worth. (2 boxes)
- Series X: Architectural Drawings, etc. - This series consists primarily of drawings relating to Scott Theater in 1965 and the renovation in 1997. Also, some miscellaneous posters and architectural drawings of the renovation of the Will Rogers Auditorium are included. (3 boxes)
- Series XI: Miscellaneous - This series consists primarily of lyrics and scripts for special programs. It also includes the narrative portions of some symphonic programs that William Garber read. The second box consists of primarily of framed drawings of some of the programs. (2 boxes)
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Last updated: Oct. 20, 2014