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© 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Jack Sydow papers
1933-2001 (bulk dates 1942-1945)
 PR289

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Audrey Belanger

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on August 16, 2012
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Biographical Note

Jack Sydow – actor, director, playwright, and professor – was born John David Sydow in Rockford, Illinois, 1921. Sydow served in the military in World War II with the Air Transport Command. While stationed in Assam, India, Sydow and fellow ATC enlisted men created a variety show Hump Happy, named for the range of mountains separating India and China referred to as "The Hump." The show featured Sydow dressed as a woman in a delayed-peel act and as one of the singing Andrew’s Sisters.  Hump Happy traveled to military bases in India, the Middle East, and Africa, becoming the first soldier show to travel across combat areas.

Sydow graduated from the University of Illinois and received his master’s from Yale School of Drama. He continued to work in theater as an actor, director, and playwright throughout his life, receiving an Obie award for a theatrical adaptation in 1958 and a Tony award nomination for directing in 1966. From 1970 to 1986, Sydow was on the University of Washington School of Drama faculty, where he served as executive director and head of the directing program.

After retiring from the University of Washington, Sydow moved to Los Angeles where he continued to act both on the stage and in television. Sydow passed away in Los Angeles in 2010 at the age of 88.