Maurice Wells

Maurice S. Wells was listed in a ship manifest along with three other men, two of which (Gilmor Brown and King Kennedy) are known to have been gay. A page has been made for him due to this, but I have not yet discovered if he was gay or not.

Maurice was born in Schuyler, Nebraska on August 9, 1903 to Alonzo and Nellie Wells. He moved to Pasadena, California as a young teen in about 1917 and attended High School in Pasadena. He and his mother lived on South Euclid in Pasadena while his father stayed behind in Omaha, Nebraska. He started acting in 1919 and by 1924, at the age of 21, he was working as a director for Gilmor Brown's Pasadena Community Playhouse, located at the Fair Oaks Theatre. By this time his father had finally joined his family on Raymond Ave in Pasadena. In 1925 Maurice moved with the company to the newly built Pasadena Playhouse. In 1928 he began working on Broadway, his first opening night role being Stephen Undershaft in "Major Barbara" at the Guild Theatre.

With the exception of a stay in Pasadena in 1930 to reprise his Broadway role in "Journey's End" at the Pasadena Playhouse, and a temporary move to Palo Alto, California in the late 1930's, he continued performing in New York until about 1944. In 1948 he played a season at the Berkshire Playhouse in Massachusetts and returned to them for four additional season from 1954 to 1957 - simultaneously working on radio and television, most notably as the neighbor on the early television program Albert and Ethel.

He continued in television, appearing in several episodes of Perry Mason in the 1960's, as well as several other shows, well into the early 1970s. He died June 25, 1978 in Pasadena.


Census Records

1170 N. Catalina Ave., Pasadena, Los Angeles, California - January 15, 1920

Name Relation Age Born Status Father Born Mother Born
Stewart, Florence Head 56 widow Vermont Vermont Vermont
Wells, Nellie step-daughter 40 married Illinois Illinois Illinois
Wells, Maurice step-grandson 16 single Nebraska Canada Illinois
Wells, Ruth step-granddaughter 9 single Nebraska Canada Illinois
Wells, Marion step-granddaughter 8 single Nebraska Canada Illinois
Wells, Loucile step-granddaughter 4 single Nebraska Canada Illinois

Voter Registration

Pasadena, California - 1924

Hoard, Mrs Addie D., hswf, 706 N. Raymond av, D
Stewart, Mrs Florence E., hswf, 706 N. Raymond av, D
Wells, Alonzo M, brkr, 706 N. Raymond av, D
Wells, Maurice S., drctr, 706 N. Raymond av, D

Pasadena, California - 1926

Stewart, Mrs Florence E, 765 S. Los Robles av, hswf, R
Wells, Maurice S., 765 S. Los Robles av, plh dr, D

Palo Alto, California - 1938

Wells, Maurice S. clk, Dem, 265 Margarite Palo Alto
Wells, Mrs Florence E. Hswf, Dem, 265 Margarite Palo Alto

Ship manifests

S. S. Majestic from New York to Southampton - Aug 12, 1926

Gilmor Brown - actor, 36
King Kennedy - actor, 22
William Edward Reis - student, 38
Maurice Wells - actor, 23

S. S. Belgenland from Antwerp to New York - October 1-11, 1926

Gilmor Brown - 36, single, b June 16, 1890 in New Salem, ND - 251 S. Fair Oaks, Pasadena
Maurice Wells - 22, single, b Aug 9, 1903 in Schuyler, Nebraksa - 765 S. Los Robles, Pasadena
King Kennedy - 22, single, b Dec 1, 1903 in Kokomo, Indiana - 702 Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills
William Reis - 38, single, b Jun 8, 1888 in Newcastle, PA - 1240 Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena

World War I Draft Registration

Alonzo McCully Wells
3645 California St., Omaha, Douglas, Nebraska
Born: June 26, 1878 in Canada
Sales Manager for America Products co.
work: 1117 Dodge St., Omaha, Douglas, Nebraska
wife: Nellie C. Wells, 655 So. Euclid Ave., Pasadena, Ca
medium height, stout build, lt brown eyes, gray hair.
dated: September 12, 1918

Newspaper Articles

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) - May 21, 1930

"Wing Over Europe," the play that started Maurice Brown of "Journey's End" fame on his upward march as a producer, is to be done at the Pasadena Community Playhouse on Thursday of this week. Maurice Wells, who was in the New York Theater Guild cast, is out here to play the original role.

Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, Massachusetts) - June 22, 1956

Playhouse Will Open On Monday
Alan Bunce Heads Cast of Comedy, 'Seven Year Itch'

Monday evening at 8:45 the Berkshire Playhouse will open for the season with the George Axelrod comedy, "The Seven Year Itch." The play will star Alan Bunce as the 39-year-old summer "bachelor," in his first Stockbridge appearance.

Mr. Bunce is probably best known for his role of Albert in the television series, "Ethel and Albert." He has also made appearances on television's "Studio One," "Robert Montgomery Presents," "United States Steel Hour," and "Armstrong Circle Theater." On radio he was heard for six years in the title role of "Young Dr. Malone," and for the same number of years as Albert on the radio version of "Ethel and Albert."

The Girl Upstrairs
Cast as the Girl from Upstairs is Carol Keyser who made her professional debut as a dancer on Broadway in "Oklahoma!" Her television appearances include the Phil Silvers filmed series. "You'll Never Get Rich," "Studio One," and "Martin Kane." Last season at the playhouse she was seen in "Sabrina Fair" and "The Tender Trap."

The role of the wife is played by Patricia Remick who was absent from the Playhouse stage last year but in 1954 played in "Travellers' Joy." She has been seen in numerous television shows and on Broadway played a leading part in "The Small Hours."

Maurice Wells, who will appear in the part of Dr. Brubaker, was seen on the playhouse stage during the 1948, 1953 and 1954 seasons in "Traveller's Joy," "The Bat," and "Charley's Aunt" In New York he has appeared in "Pygmalion," "Major Barbara," "Elizabeth the Queen," "We, the People" and "Outrageous Fortune."

Star-News (Pasadena, California) - March 16, 1964

Letters to the Editor
Humane Treatment

I was impressed and pleased to read your recent editorial advocating legislation to ensure humane treatment of laboratory animals used in research and noted at least one letter in your column requesting further information. Such information may be had by writing the Society for Animal Protective Legislation, 745 Fifth Ave., New York City 22.

Your letter column also indicates interest in the Wilderness Bill, which at long last seems scheduled for enactment this year. Most of our California congressmen support the bill, and citizens hopeful of its passage should now strongly express themselves to their congressional representatives.

Again many thanks,

Star-News (Pasadena, California) - February 17, 1977

It's curtains for Oaks Theatre in Pasadena

Hundreds of actors and actresses performed at the theatre on North Fair Oaks Avenue in the past, but only Maurice Wells showed up to reminisce as its demolitions began Wednesday.

It its last days, the place was the Oaks and Tom Cat theatres, but Wells had played there when the Gilmor Brown Stock Co. used it. "I began acting on the stage in 1919 while I was still in high school." Wells said, "I remained with Brown through the years when the Pasadena Community Players built the Pasadena Playhouse and I acted there for some time before going on to Broadway." Wells lives in South Pasadena in semiretirement.

Ollie Prickett of Pasadena is another actor who remembers the old theatre. He recalls as a child being told about the building of the place as Talley's Theatre. In the alleyway behind the theatre at 85 N. Fair Oaks Ave. Wells pointed to a sealed iron door. "That was the stage door and that is the original door," he said, "Ollie and I and the other players went through there many a time. If a player went off stage at the left and came back from the right he had to go through this alleyway with someone holding up an umbrella if it was raining."

Wells stood on the stage and looked out over the stripped auditorium. The seats were gone, there was debris and for Wells a strong sense of nostalgia - memories of when he played in productions of Shakespeare - and especially the premiere of Eugene O'Neill's "Lazarus Laughed."

The theater was built in 1910 by Anthony Pearce, with some assistance from William C. Clone who, some years later, build Clune's Theatre around the corner on Colorado Boulevard. The shows at first were patterened after those at the Burbank burlesque in Los Angeles.

The Carpenter and Fisher theatrical firm took a lease on the theater in 1915, changed the name to the Savoy and converted it to a combination vaudeville and motion picture house. It seated 500.

"Irving Pichel starred in "Lazarus Laughed" on this stage," Wells said. "It was O'Neill at his most mystical and exciting. The Playhouse exhibit which Ollie set up at the Kennedy center for the Bicentennial year had pictures, playbills and memorabilia from the production.

"The Lazarus exhibit was so well liked that the Kennedy Center kept it on display through the inauguration. All the players except Lazarus had masks but I don't know whether any of them still exist."

In October of 1916, Brown and his stock company arrived in Pasadena. On Nov. 17, 1917, his Community Players, presented their first program at the old Shakespeare Club. Next they leased the Savoy, scrubbed it, painted it and rechristened it the Community Playhouse of Pasadena. The players remained there until the new Playhouse on El Molino Avenue was dedicated in 1925.

In the 50's, Harold W. Wenzler, who died last week of what coroner's officials now calla possibly homicidal blow to the abdomen, took over what was then known as the Oaks Theatre.

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