Item no. 22003
New York
Occupation: Entertainment and sports
Collection: Wagner Labor Archives

The Actors Equity strike of 1919, re-created during the strike at the Lexington Avenue Opera House. Often called the "revolt of the actors," the 1919 strike established the newly formed actors' union as a force in the American theater.  Actors' Equity produced shows to raise money for the strike fund, including the one pictured here, with actor Brandon Tynan declaiming a well-adapted version of Marc Antony's address to the Roman citizens at the funeral of Julius Caesar:

"Friends, Brothers, Sisters, Countrymen, lend me your ears.  I come not to bury Equity but to praise him.  The evil that men do lives after them.  The good is oft interred with their bones.  Not so with Equity....

"Behind us we have more than five million men and women.  The ship of hope--the American Federation of Labor. [The mob cheers.]

"Now, dear public, our great public.  You have always stood for justice.  You have always been just to us and we have always tried to be just to you.  Will you stand up and show that you are with us, and join us in our cry of EQUITY! EQUITY!!, EQUITY!!!"

The crowded house sprang to its feet as the actors onstage threw back their heads, stretched out their arms, and thrilled to their cry of faith, with the audience joining in. (New York Call, August, 1919)

Image from the Actors Equity Collection, NYU Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives.

See this image in the Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives exhibit.

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Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives