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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Shirley Rich papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1929-2010
Creator: Rich, Shirley (1922-2009)
Extent: 12.50 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0055
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Casting director who worked for Rodgers and Hammerstein; founded Shirley Rich Casting in 1969.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Box 3 and 9; Audiocassettes [AC193-196, AC1348, AC1358-1361]

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 109) were received from Shirley Rich Krohn in 1992 and in succeeding years.

Preferred Citation: Shirley Rich papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Address: 100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5068
Curator: Kären Mason

Shirley Rich, casting director in theater, television and film, was born in Chicago on December 10, 1922.  Her parents,  Meyer and Hattie Rich, were immigrants from Eastern Europe.  Rich grew up in Ottumwa, Iowa and graduated from the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) in 1944 with a bachelor of fine arts degree.  In 1946 she received a masters degree in theater from Smith College, where she studied under Hallie Flanagan Davis.

Rich then moved to New York City.  In 1946 she worked for the American National Theater and Academy (ANTA) having received a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship the first year.  During her second year with ANTA Rich worked for their experimental theater which included such productions as Galileo with Charles Laughton and Skipper Next To God with John Garfield.  From 1948 to 1951, she worked for Rodgers and Hammerstein as assistant casting director, taking time out in 1950 to do public relations and press work for the Ballet Theater during its State Department tour of Europe.  While with Rodgers and Hammerstein, Rich worked on South Pacific and The King and I, among other productions. From 1951 to 1954, she worked as the eastern talent scout for the Talent Department of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures.

In 1952, Rich married Lewis M. Krohn, an investment banker.  They had two children, Steven and Lisa.  Rich spent the next several years raising her children in Scarsdale, New York.

In 1963, Rich resumed her career, working as casting director for Hal Prince. During the following six years, Rich cast such productions as Fiddler On The Roof, Cabaret, and Zorba.  In 1969, she founded Shirley Rich Casting and began work as a free-lance casting director.  In this capacity, she worked on films such as Taps, Kramer vs. Kramer, Serpico, Three Days of The Condor, Rachel, Rachel and Saturday Night Fever, and television programs including the American Playhouse production of Andre's Mother and the soap opera Ryan's Hope, winner of many Emmy Awards.  Her theater productions include Ballroom and Crimes of the Heart.

Rich has received numerous awards including: in 1983 the Smith College Medal, awarded to distinguished alumnae who best exemplify the true purpose of a liberal arts education; in 1991 the Hoyt Bower Award from the Casting Society of America for Outstanding Contribution to the Casting Profession; and in 1994 the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Iowa.  In addition, as part of the Sesquicentennial of Ottumwa, Iowa, the Ottumwa Arts Council honored her as one of four creative artists from Ottumwa in March 1994.

The Shirley Rich papers date from 1929 to 2010 and measure 12.5 linear inches. The papers are arranged in seven series: Biographical material, Childhood and Education, Smith College, The University of Iowa, Professional files, Photographs, and Artifacts. The bulk of the material relates to Rich's career in theater. In many cases, Rich has identified (with handwritten notes) the date and/or context of the item.

The first series, Biographical material (1950-2010) includes lists of Rich's casting accomplishments, her entry from "Who's Who in Entertainment", newspaper clippings, a copy of the University of Iowa's Dividends magazine, in which Rich was featured for her gifts to the university, and a photocopy of the speech she delivered upon receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Iowa in 1994. Obituaries and memorials complete the series.

The Childhood and Education series (1940-1944) consists of photographs, newspaper clippings, and letters from former teachers which relate to Rich's activities, performances, and achievements. Also included is a copy of her Ottumwa high school yearbook from 1940.

The Smith College series (1944-2007) consists of correspondence and newspaper clippings from Rich's days at Smith as well as those relating to her ongoing relationship with Smith. This series also contains a scrapbook which documents her performances and other theater-related activities at Smith.

The University of Iowa series (1940-2010) contains correspondence and newspaper clippings from 1940 when she matriculated at the university to enter the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theater program. It continues with her ongoing contributions to The University of Iowa. The Alumni Achievement Award that she received in 1994 is highlighted in this series. Audiocassettes include a lecture by Shirley Rich Krohn given at the University of Iowa Theater Department in 1978 and an interview recorded in 1992 by Peter Ullian at the University of Iowa Theatre in which Krohn discusses her thoughts on the University of Iowa Theatre Department.

The Professional files series (1940-2008) includes newspaper clippings (spanning four decades) concerning reviews or descriptions of performances with which Rich was involved, as well as interviews with Rich. Articles from Iowa newspapers describe her Iowa roots. Correspondence (sparsely covering four decades) includes a letter from Rod Steiger (September 3, 1965), and a few notes from Richard Rodgers (1950). Also included in this series is a radio script from 1947 when Rich, along with an unemployed actor, was interviewed on the Margaret Arlen show.

Photographs (1939-1990) feature Rich as well as Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Hallie Flanagan Davis, Jackie Cooper and Rod Steiger.

The Artifacts (1925-1994) range from an antique typewriter to various collectables from her professional career such as the Kramer vs. Kramer gavel and a glass CSA Hoyt Bowers Award, 1990. Various personally engraved tankards from friends and colleagues accompany a "Three Days of the Condor" excellence in casting award from 1975.
Profile of casting director: Shirley Rich Krohn. WSUI Public Radio, Iowa City, March 13, 1992. Julie Englander, Producer [AC121].

Browse by Series:
Series 1: Biographical material
Series 2: Childhood and Education
Series 3: Smith College
Series 4: The University of Iowa
Series 5: Professional files
Series 6: Photographs
Series 7: Artifacts

  • Series 1: Biographical material
  • Box 1:
  • Obituaries and memorials - 2009-2010
  • Obituaries and memorials - 2009-2010
  • Obituaries and memorials - 2009-2010
  • Obituaries and memorials - 2009-2010
  • Shirley Rich memorial dedication (d0075) - 6-24-2010
  • Song dedicated to Shirley by friend Sal at Christmas (AC1358) - 1975
  • Series 2: Childhood and Education
  • Box 1:
  • General - 1940-1944
  • Correspondence - 1940-1944
  • Diplomas - 1940-1944
  • Newspaper clippings - 1929-1944
  • Ottumwa High School Year Book - 1940
  • Series 3: Smith College
  • Box 1:
  • Correspondence - 1946-2007
  • Scrapbook - 1944-1945
  • Series 4: The University of Iowa
  • Box 2:
  • Alumni Achievement Award - 1994
  • Correspondence - 1946-2007
  • Newspaper clippings - 1943-1994
  • Programs - 1994-2007
  • Shirley Rich lecture to University of Iowa Theater Department (AC193-194) - 1978
  • Interview with Rich by Peter Ullian (AC195-196) - 1992
  • Series 5: Professional files
  • Box 2:
  • Resumes
  • Correspondence - 1947-1995
  • Correspondence - 1995-2007
  • Correspondence - 1952-2007
  • Newspaper clippings - 1940-1994
  • Newspaper clippings - 1977-2006
  • Academy and Casting Society - 1986-2008
  • Awards [Casting Society of America Artios Award in map drawer] - 1979-1993
  • National Association of Talent Award - 1987
  • Tony Award Board - 1999-2005
  • Box 3:
  • Federal Theater Project - 1976-2003
  • Friends' memorials - 1978-2004
  • Newton - 1992-2003
  • Playbills - 1950-2007
  • Radio script - 1947
  • "South Pacific" - 1949-1950
  • Speaking notes/fliers - 1992-2006
  • "Conversations with my Father," play by Herb Gardner read by Shirley (AC1359-1361) - 1994
  • Series 6: Photographs
  • Box 3:
  • General - 1939-1990
  • Series 7: Artifacts
  • Box 4:
  • Framed award - 1975
  • CSA Hoyt Bowers Award - 1990
  • Kramer vs. Kramer gavel - 1978
  • Zorba stone - 1968
  • Zorba placard - 1978
  • Framed stitched "75% of directing is casting"
  • "Is there life after high school?" pin
  • "70" award pin
  • "Ballroom crystal"
  • CSA glass dish
  • UI President's Club plaque
  • UI Alumni Assoc dish
  • UI President's glass dish
  • Box 5:
  • Tankard, "Diary of a Mad Housewife" - 1970
  • Tankard, "Love Baby" - 1967
  • Tankard, "Who is Harry Kellerman..." - 1970