Hyde & Behman

I am indebted to architectural historian Craig Morrison who uncovered much of the info in this post when researching the exhibition Brooklyn Sees Stars for The Theatre Museum.

During the last third of the 19th century,energetic vaudeville entrepreneurs sprang up in different sections of the country and began to mark off turf: Keith and Albee in Boston, F.F. Proctor in upstate New York, Beck and Meyerfeld in San Francisco, Kohl and Castle in Chicago, Tony Pastor and Oscar Hammerstein (separately) in Manhattan. Hyde and Behman began in Brooklyn.

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Please remember that this was back when Brooklyn was not part of what we now call New York City, which wasn’t incorporated in its present configuration until 1898. It was a separate town, divided by Manhattan island by a river (the first bridge across was built in 1904). It was its own municipality with its own population and its own entertainment needs. In the late ’70s a young Brooklyn grocery clerk named Louis Behman and his schoolmate Richard Hyde opened their first theatre, the Volks Garden, on Adams Street. (This was following an earlier experiment with a temporary music hall at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia). In 1890, they expanded, building their first Hyde and Behman’s Theatre. By 1882 they were building, buying and leasing theatres all over Brooklyn, and soon after that, their empire would include theatres in Manhattan, Newark, Pittsburg and Chicago (where they bought and rehabilitated the Iroquois, site of the famous fire and Eddie Foy’s heroic deeds.) In 1900, the partners collaborated with most of the other major managers in creating the first vaudeville cartel, but they were not to last long into the new age that development portended. Behman died in 1902; Hyde in 1912.

To find out more about these variety artists and the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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8 Responses to “Hyde & Behman”

  1. I think you mean 1876.
    “This was following an earlier experiment with a temporary music hall at the 1976 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia:

    I think you mean 1882.
    “By 1982 they were building, buying and leasing theatres all over Brooklyn”

    This means I read you post very closely. Great stuff. Thanks.
    JIM

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  2. […] was held over for 20 weeks) and toured with vaudeville companies managed by Weber & Fields and Hyde & Behman. In 1899 she met and married George M. Cohan. The timing was fortuitous; he opened his first […]

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  3. Richard Hyde Gregory Says:

    Richard Hyde was my Great Grandfather I would love to hear any other information anyone may have on his life!
    Thank You

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    • I wish! Believe it or not, the story behind Hyde and Behman was my greatest vexation in working on “No Applause”. In most other similar cases I was able to turn up the information I was seeking. If a name popped up repeatedly I would investigate and get the backstory. Hyde & Behman are mentioned frequently; they were clearly important men…but the trail ends there. So I was very happy when Craig Morrison dug up the info I used in this post. Minimal as it is, it’s all I know. If someone hasn’t done so already, someone’s going to have to make it their project to unearth the facts, from newspapers, business records, correspondence and so forth. I’m unware of anything published, but if I do happen to come across something I’ll certainly share it. And if any readers know more, please share it with us! (And nice to hear from you, by the way!)

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  4. Richard Hyde Gregory Says:

    Richard Hyde owned the South Shore Filed Club which was his home in Bayshore Long Island. His Daughter Lillian Hyde Feitner (my Grandmother) grew up on this property which had a golf course. She was considered one of the best women golfers in the U.S. winning the MGA championship 6 times.

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