The Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University announced today that Bradshaw Smith’s video collection of more than 6,100 hours of cabaret and Broadway theater performances has been donated to the library by his estate. Smith, a former cabaret artist, shot close to three decades of New York theatre events from openings and press events to concerts and one-nighters.

NYU’s Fales Library and Special Collections Acquires Bradshaw Smith’s Video Collection
Bradshaw Smith [LEFT] and his colleague and interviewer Richard Ridge [image via]

Creator of Broadway Beat, Smith’s more than 6,100 hours of cabaret and Broadway theater performances has been donated to the library by his estate.

“Bradshaw Smith knew the New York cabaret scene from the inside out,” said Marvin J. Taylor, director of Fales.  “Not only was he a successful performer, winning a 1987 MAC Award for Best Male Vocalist, but also he was the premier archivist of the scene.”

Smith went behind the camera and began the cable television show, Cabaret Beat, which eventually morphed into Broadway Beat, a half-hour television program that covered theatre, music and performers.  With his colleague, interviewer Richard Ridge, he was a fixture on Broadway's red carpet.  Smith caught on camera interviews with theatre artists, scenes in rehearsal halls and at opening nights, events on Broadway and Off-Broadway, at awards ceremonies and in cabaret halls.

“Brad taped everyone—in both the big rooms and the dives—from Nancy Lamott and Andrea Marcovici to Ruby Rims and The Lady Bunny,” continued Taylor.  “He understood that the breadth of cabaret in New York City was unique in the world. Through his vision, we have documentation of the last thirty years of performances—no doubt the largest and most comprehensive collection about cabaret.”

Smith passed away on January 16, 2012, following a sudden and severe stroke.  He was 56.  Smith’s brother, Robert, along with friends, helped sort and catalog the video tapes before donating them.

"We feel relieved that Brad's video collection is now in the hands of a competent archivist and excited that the material will be developed and promoted in a manner consistent with his vision,” said his brother, Robert Smith, executor of the estate.  “I'm certain he would be very proud that his collection of New York City cabaret and theater now resides at the Fales Library at NYU."

Fales will be seeking funds to help preserve this amazing legacy of New York cabaret and American popular song so it can be made available for research. For additional information on the collection, please contact Brent Phillips, Media Specialist and Processing Archivist at Fales Library, 212-998-2593 or

About Fales Library and Special Collections:

The Fales Library, comprising nearly 355,000 volumes, and over 10,000 linear feet of archive and manuscript materials, houses the Fales Collection of rare books and manuscripts in English and American literature, the Downtown Collection, the Food and Cookery Collection and the general Special Collections of the NYU Libraries. The Fales Collection was given to NYU in 1957 by DeCoursey Fales in memory of his father, Haliburton Fales. It is especially strong in English literature from the middle of the 18th century to the present, documenting developments in the novel. The Downtown Collection documents the downtown New York art, performance, and literary scenes from 1975 to the present and is extremely rich in archival holdings, including extensive film and video objects. The Food and Cookery Collection is a vast, and rapidly expanding collection of books and manuscripts documenting food and foodways with particular emphasis on New York City. Other strengths of the collection include the Berol Collection of Lewis Carroll Materials, the Robert Frost Library, the Kaplan and Rosenthal Collections of Judaica and Hebraica and the manuscript collections of Elizabeth Robins and Erich Maria Remarque. The Fales Library preserves manuscripts and original editions of books that are rare or important not only because of their texts, but also because of their value as artifacts.

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Christopher James
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