TABLE OF CONTENTS
One Miller Road
Morristown, NJ 07960
|Title:||Finding Aid to the Robert Simms Collection|
|Call Number:||H929 MSS Simm|
|Date:||1940 - 1990|
|Quantity:||0.25 linear feet in 1 manuscript box|
This collection is open for research under the conditions set forth in the North Jersey History and Genealogy Center archives access policy. All archival material should be handled with care and kept in its original order; notes may only be taken in pencil or with a computer, and food and drink are prohibited in the Reading Room. Records may be copied for scholarly or personal research using the edge scanner or a digital camera without flash; however, researchers must obtain copyright permission prior to publishing material from the collection.
Robert Simms Collection, 1940 - 1990. North Jersey History and Genealogy Center, Morristown and Morris Township Library.
The Robert Simms Collection was donated to the Morristown and Morris Township Library by Stanley P. Simms in March 2016.
Processed and described by Maeve Forde, Intern, February 2017. Encoded by Jeffrey V. Moy, April 2017.
Robert W Simms, Jr. was born on March 3, 1929 in Morristown, New Jersey. His parents were Robert W. Simms (1890 - 1965) and Marjorie M. Searles (1898 - 1957). As a child, he lived at 259 South Street in Morristown. He attended Morristown Public Schools and participated in school theater productions. His first theater role was in a kindergarten production of “Tom Thumb’s Wedding.” As a child, he worked in the stable of the Chafflin Estates, where his father worked.
Simms graduated from Morristown High School in 1948 and soon after worked in his first professional production, “The Bishop Misbehaves.” He attended the Robert Evans Academy in New York City and studied the Stanislavski school of method acting. He worked consistently as an actor and also, from the late 1940’s to the early 1950’s, worked for the FBI.
In the early 1950’s, Simms married his first wife, actress Beverly Barsanti of Los Angeles. The marriage ended by 1957. He continued his studies and worked with Michael Howard of the Actor’s Studio. Simms then worked in a series of summer stock productions, including “Blithe Spirit” in Missouri and “Affairs of State” in New York. He performed in the 1957 off-Broadway production of Sean O’Casey’s “Purple Dust,” which garnered considerable acclaim.
Simms began teaching drama at Morristown High School in 1958, and continued teaching there for ten years. He was named the director the newly formed Drama Department of the North Jersey School of Dance Arts in 1959. Simms also offers private lessons throughout his career, focusing largely on the Stanislavski method that he studied.
Simms began directing productions in 1960, including a production of “Come Back, Little Sheba” by William Inge at Ray-Worth Dance Studio in Morristown. That same year, he created the Actor’s Community Workshop and began productions in cooperation with the University-Community Theater at Farleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey. The goal of the University-Community Theater was to include groups such as Actor’s Community Workshop, Morristown Little Theater, and Fairleigh Dickinson University Student Drama Club and develop the overall culture of Morris County.
In 1961 and 1962, Simms taught drama classes at Morristown Community Adult School. From 1964 to 1965, he was the head of New Jersey State Theater. In 1967 he was commissioned to adapt, produce, and direct a historical pageant in celebration of the 300th anniversary of New Jersey. In the 1970’s, Simms taught at Masterwork Foundation Chorus of New Jersey.
In the early 1970’s, Simms became involved in the Morris-Sussex Chapter of the American Heart Association. In 1974 he was named Director of Public Relations and Development of the Chapter. He oversaw events such as the annual Jogathon for Heart.
Simms resumed live performances in the 1980’s and performed his own works “Edgar Allan Poe,” “Ebenezer Scrooge” with a puppet ensemble, and “An Evening with Man of 100 Voices and Faces Robert Simms” at dozens of local schools and libraries through 1986. Meanwhile, he still offered private acting lessons. By the end of his career, Simms had appeared in over 200 television programs and worked with performers such as Barbra Streisand and Bob Hope. He died in Morristown on April 17, 1993 after a short illness. He had no children.
HM5 MSS MSD Rec - Morristown School District Records
The collection consists of personal and business records dating from 1940 to 1990 (bulk dates, 1955-1986), and is comprised of three series: Personal Correspondonce and Photographs, Acting Career, and Other Professional Activities. The materials include promotional material, newspaper clippings, headshots, character photographs, family photographs, drawings, and professional and personal correspondence. Much of the collection relates to Simms’s career as an actor and a teacher.
The collection is arranged into three series, all of which are organized chronologically with the exception of Folder 15, which is in the order it was originally stored in.
Series I: Personal Correspondence and Photographs
|1||1||Family photographs, 1940-1986|
|2||Photographs of and postcards from friends, 1975-1990|
|3||Photographs of Robert Simms, 1947-1986|
|4||Photographs of Morristown, ca. 1970|
Series II: Acting Career
|1||5||Robert Simms headshots, 1947-ca. 1986|
|6||Robert Simms character photographs, 1947-1986|
|7||Robert Simms performance promotional items, ca. 1950-1986|
|8||Robert Simms performance reviews, ca. 1950-1970|
|9||Recommendation letters on behalf of Robert Simms, 1971-1972|
Series III: Other Professional Activities
|1||10||Promotional material from Robert Simms’s work as a director, 1960-ca. 1965|
|11||Programs from Robert Simms’s work as a teacher, 1974|
|12||Press material from Robert Simms’s work as a teacher, 1959-1986|
|13||Recommendation letters on behalf of Robert Simms, 1959-1972|
|14||Press material and photographs regarding the American Heart Association, 1974-1975|
|15||Caricatures drawn by Robert Simms, ca. 1960-ca. 1980|