The Episcopal Actors' Guild of America, Inc.
"Charitable help for performers of all faiths, and none"
An actor who became an Episcopalian priest (Father Walter Edmund Bentley) founded the Actors Church Alliance in 1899, which then became the Episcopal Actors' Guild in 1923.
An actress named Catherine Roskam founded the Joseph Jefferson Players as a project of the Episcopal Actors' Guild in the 1970's. This theatre company performed in the "Little Church," and attracted such future names as Armand Assante and Rhea Perlman. The founder is now The Right Reverend Catherine Roskam, Suffragan Bishop of New York.
Lloyd Bridges, John Cassavetes, Colleen Dewhurst, Rex Harrison, Barnard Hughes, Jean Stapleton and Sam Waterston are among the many actors who were married at the "Little Church."
Richard Mansfield, whose desk is in Guild Hall, performed in many of the original productions of Gilbert & Sullivan's Operettas. There is a stained glass window of him as Richard III in the "Little Church."
The Guild's Annual Memorial Service is celebrated at the "Little Church" on every second Sunday in November at 4 P.M. As many as 200 names are read in alphabetical order of those members of the Guild and the performing arts community, who have died during the previous year. After the last name is heard, the congregation gives them a long and enthusiastic standing ovation in their honor. This very touching celebratory tradition is one of the most popular of the Guild's activities.
The Guild's George Holland Society grew from 38 members when it was established in 1998, to 126 members in 2008. They include Fred Astaire, Father Walter Bentley, Minnie Maddern Fiske, Joan Fontaine, Margaret Hamilton, Barnard Hughes, Sir Laurence Olivier, Mrs. Richard Mansfield, and Sam Waterston.
Edwin Booth's daughter Edwina became a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild when she was in her early seventies.
Actor-Director Burgess Meredith was a member of the Guild. He once sent us a Christmas card featuring a movie still picture of himself as a priest, with the handwritten message, "Your sins are all forgiven so have a Happy Holiday!"
Through the years, a surprising number of present and former Guild members have been winners or nominees for Oscars, Tonys, Emmys, Obies and several other major awards. They Include George Arliss, Fred Astaire, Zoe Caldwell, Joan Fontaine, Charlton Heston, Celeste Holm, Barnard Hughes, Richard Kiley, Jason Robards, Cliff Robertson, Jean Stapleton and Helen Stenborg, to name just a few.
The motion picture classic "Miracle on 34th Street" starred a Guild member, John Payne, and the Guild's Archives Collection includes an original Christmas tree ornament from a tree featured in that movie, a gift of our late Vice President Emeritus, Peter Harris.
DID YOU KNOW?
Interesting Facts About the Guild
The Episcopal Actors' Guild was founded in 1923. It was incorporated in 1926.
Every night the Guild lights up the amber stained glass windows of the "Little Church" steeple in honor of actors: past, present and future.
An original landscape oil painting by Joseph Jefferson hangs in Guild Hall, a gift of Viola Allen. It is entitled "The Brook."
Of our Guild Membership in 2008, five had been members for over 60 years, and eleven had been members for more than 50 years.
Joseph Jefferson's Cabinet in Guild Hall was donated by Guild Member Margaret Hamilton, who played "The Wicked Witch of the West" in the motion picture "The Wizard of Oz."
A watercolor painting of the Guild's first President, George Arliss, in costume for the play "The Green Goddess," hangs in Guild Hall. "Green Goddess" salad dressing was taken from Mr. Arliss' recipe, and was named for the play.
A 1989 bequest from Anita Hendrie Miles funded two rooms at the Actors' Fund Home, and now provides more than $7,000 each year to the Emergency Aid & Relief Program, as part of the Charitable Programs Endowment.
A Sustaining Member of the Guild is one who annually donates $100 or more over and above annual membership dues. A Perpetual Sustaining Member is one who has donated a $2000 gift to the Charitable Programs Endowments.