I am a painter, writer, lecturer, and family historian. I have devoted much of my life to studying and preserving my family's heritage and their contribution to American culture. I lecture frequently at universities, institutes, and theatrical and civic organizations on my family's pivotal role in shaping the development of musical theatre and popular entertainment in this country from the 1860's to the present. In 1997, I co-wrote/curated the exhibit, "Direct From Broadway, A 200-Year History of New York City Theatre," for the Paine-Weber Gallery space in New York City. I am currently on hiatus from teaching graduate level NYC theatre history and Musical Theatre history as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University.
I have recently written a book about my theatrical family, entitled, THE HAMMERSTEINS - A Musical Theatre Family, (Black Dog & Leventhal, Publisher.) THE HAMMERSTEINS is the story of one of Broadway's most creative and productive families. It is a story that begins in 1864 when Oscar Hammerstein I emigrates to America, establishes himself as a successful cigar merchant and turns his attention to the business of music and theatres. He builds many theatres including New York's most majestic opera house. He turns Times Square (then Longacre Square) into the theatre capital of the world. His sons, Willie and Arthur carry on the tradition and nurture such talents as Will Rogers, W.C. Fields, Al Jolson, Houdini, and Charlie Chaplin. Willie's son Oscar II becomes the most successful lyricist of all time, writing the story and words to the Broadway shows Showboat, Oklahoma, South Pacific, Carousel, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. The accomplishments of this family are monumental. Their tale is enchanting. THE HAMMERSTEINS presents a multi-layered portrait of the Hammerstein legacy, complete with personal and professional highlights, as well as scandals and tragedies. The book also draws heavily upon the family archives, presenting a rich collection of photographs, theatre blueprints, letters, programs, patents, and more, much of which has never been seen before. The Hammersteins is at once a deeply personal story of an American family living the American dream and a celebration of musical theatre in this country.