Writings, manuscripts, publications and
photographs documenting the life of pantomime artist and poet Harry Bartron
from 1927 to 2006. The bulk of the collection dates from 1978 to 2005 and
consists of poetry exploring in particular Bartron's Roman Catholic faith and
his homosexuality. Additional materials include liturgical materials, written
for the Los Angeles chapter of Dignity/USA; autobiographical reminiscences;
correspondence; and materials documenting Bartron's daily activities and his
career as a pantomimist and his work as an advocate for GLBT seniors. The
photographs include images of Bartron in costume and in performance, as well as
photographs and snapshots of family and friends.
Harry Ollen Bartron was born in Van Etten, New York, on December 26,
1917, the fifth and youngest child of Fernando and Margaret (Cranmer) Bartron.
Shortly after Bartron's birth, his mother divorced his physically abusive
father, and married a tenant farmer named Frank Whitmore, and Harry lived his
childhood on several farms in the neighborhood of Troy, Pennsylvania. Bartron's
mother left Whitmore when she discovered he had never divorced his first wife,
and Bartron found himself on his own at age 13. He spent his high school years
boarding with relatives and private families in Elmira, New York. Raised a
Baptist, he joined the fundamentalist Pilgrim Holiness Church in his late
teens, and completed seminary work at the Allentown Bible School in Allentown,
Pennsylvania, where he met Inez Lee Fotner, whom he married. He joined the Navy
in 1943 and converted to Roman Catholicism in boot camp; he was expelled from
the Navy later that year with an "Undesirable Discharge" for making sexual
advances to another sailor. He returned to his wife and son Stephen, born
during his deployment, and moved Cincinnati, where he obtained work with a
Catholic goods shop, joined the Third Order of St. Francis, and took classes at
Xavier University. Bartron and his wife had two more children, Elizabeth (born
1945) and Carol (born 1947). In 1947, Bartron moved to Chicago to attend Loyola
University. He also became very active in the Uptown Players of Chicago, both
as an actor and assistant to the director; he also took private lessons in
performance. His wife left him in 1948; she later married Paul Marcus Marker
(1925-1997), with whom she had several children, and died in 1986. Now single,
Bartron developed a one-man show, first as a monologist, then as a mime, and
for the next 18 years performed over 4,200 times throughout the United States,
Canada, the British Isles, and Mexico. With the success of Marcel Marceau,
Bartron was billed as "the American Pantomimist".
Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in
writing from ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives as the physical owner.
Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in
the materials. Note that ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives can grant
copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for
all other materials directly from the copyright holder(s).