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UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture
Harvey Goodwin Collection, 1913-1992
18.0 Linear feet39 document boxes
Arranged in four series:Series I Harvey Goodwin FilesSeries II Biographical files of Female ImpersonatorsSeries III Printed MaterialSeries IV Photographs
Scope and Content
This collection contains the correspondence and personal papers of Harvey Wilson Goodwin, a Little Rock native who worked as a female impersonator throughout the United States and in Europe from the 1930s to the 1960s. Also included are biographical files, compiled by Goodwin, on other female impersonators. Extensive printed materials and photographs complete the collection.
This collection was originally numbered A-115.
Harvey Wilson Goodwin, son of Ernest Eugene Goodwin and Ella Lorena Hicks Goodwin, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1912 August 14. While growing up in Little Rock, Goodwin developed an early interest in the stage. He graduated from Little Rock High School in 1930 and attended business school for a year before leaving for Washington, D.C., where he accepted a clerical position with the U.S. Bureau of Public Health. In his spare time, Goodwin studied dance and music. He made his first appearance as a female impersonator in a 1933 dance recital (his initial stage name being "Adrienne"), and he was soon working in clubs around the eastern seaboard while still maintaining his government position. When a suitable salary was offered by New York City's Club Richman in 1934, however, Goodwin resigned from his clerical position. While at the Club Richman, Goodwin, who had by then assumed the stage name "Harvey Lee," was chosen to play a femme fatale in "The City Slicker," a Warner Brothers-Vitaphone short subject film. Goodwin was often billed as the "male Jean Harlow," and later, after Harlow's death, as the "male Alice Faye." It seemed Goodwin's star was on the rise, but he was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1936.
Goodwin spent the next five years in various sanitoria. He returned to Little Rock in 1941, performing clerical work at Camp Robinson and the Arkansas Ordnance Plant. In 1943, his tuberculosis resurfaced, and he went to the City of Hope Hospital in Duarte, California, where he remained until 1944 January 1. In April 1944, Goodwin moved to San Francisco and resumed his show business career. He worked at Club Finocchio's in San Francisco and other clubs throughout the United States with the "Jewel Box Revue" and as an independent act.
By 1952, "Harvey Lee" was a polished performer, and the addition of "Nikki," his Russian wolfhound (borzoi), to the act made Goodwin's performance unique. In 1952, however, he had a third bout with tuberculosis, and he quit the club circuit to return to clerical duties in New York City. His office duties did not improve his condition, though, and Goodwin was admitted to the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital, from which he was released in October 1953. During the next four years, Goodwin worked for various New York businesses as a clerk.
In 1957, Goodwin again returned to show business, this time taking his act to Europe, where female impersonators were very popular. He worked in various French and German clubs before returning to New York in August 1958. Goodwin again returned to office work later that year and continued until 1964, when he returned to San Francisco and Club Finocchio's. He worked at Finocchio's (often as master of ceremonies) for two years, before quitting in 1966. Goodwin worked sporadically during the next few months before retiring from show business. His last office position was with Standard Oil Company of California, from which he retired on 1977 September 1. After the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, Harvey Goodwin returned to Little Rock, where he died in 1992.
Female impersonators--United States--History--20th century
Goodwin, Harvey W., 1912-1992
Goodwin, Harvey W., 1912-1992, donor
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is available for viewing at the Arkansas Studies Institute.
Conditions Governing Use
The copyright law of the United States (Title 17-U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. The person using this material is liable for any infringement.
Copyright for correspondence in the collections belongs to those correspondents or their beneficiaries. Persons wanting to re-use those materials are advised to obtain permission from copyright holders.
Harvey Goodwin Collection, 1913-1992, UALR.MS.0112. UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture, Arkansas Studies Institute, Little Rock.
Footnote or Endnote Information:
Description of item, file number, box number, series number, Harvey Goodwin Collection, 1913-1992, UALR.MS.0112.