The Jess Mack Papers document the professional life of burlesque agent and comedy writer Jess Mack from 1916 to 1988 in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition to contracts, correspondence, engagements, and newspaper articles, the collection contains five boxes of jokes, scripts and scenes used in various burlesque productions. Other material includes photographs of entertainers and burlesque stars, joke booklets, and issues of Mack's magazine, Cavalcade of Burlesque, dating from 1951 to 1954.
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Scope and Contents Note
The papers document the professional life of burlesque agent and comedy writer Jess Mack from 1918 to 1988. In addition to contracts, correspondence, engagements, and newspaper articles, these papers contain five boxes of jokes, scripts and scenes used in various burlesque productions. Other material includes photographs of entertainers and burlesque stars, joke booklets, advertisements for shows, scheduling information on entertainers, and issues of Mack’s magazine, Cavalcade of Burlesque, dating from 1951 to 1954. Additionally, there are audio recordings of burlesque comic routines and musicals.
The collection is open for research.
Materials in this collection may be protected by copyrights and other rights. See Reproductions and Use on the UNLV Special Collections website for more information about reproductions and permissions to publish.
The collection is divided into three series:
Series I. General Papers and Photographs, 1956-1987;
Series II. Promotional Materials, 1951-1989;
Series III. Comic Material, 1940s-1980s.
Biographical / Historical Note
Jess Mack, born in Baltimore, Maryland on May 14, 1905, was an actor for 30 years, and a producer, comedy writer, and agent for 35 years in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mack wrote for comedians including Phil Silvers, Rags Ragland, Red Buttons, Charlie Kemper, Phyllis Diller, and Rip Taylor. He also wrote comedy lines and sketches for Abbott and Costello, Jackie Gleason, George White's Scandals and Minsky's Follies. Mack was also the writer and publisher of the Cavalcade of Burlesque magazine. As an agent, Mack represented a number of prominent striptease dancers.
In addition to his show business life, Mack was a member of a number of philanthropic and charitable organizations, including the Saints and Sinners, Kentucky Colonels, Catholic Actors Guild of America, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He was a 32nd Degree Mason, a member of Scottish Rights and a Shriner with the Zelza Temple.
Mack first appeared in a comedy act in Las Vegas in 1944 with Charles Kemper at the El Rancho Vegas Hotel and Casino. He made two trips to the South Pacific with the United Service Organizations (1945 and 1946). Mack continued to work and travel until 1969 when he moved to Las Vegas permanently and opened the Jess Mack Theatrical Agency. His 35 years as an agent culminated on June 24, 1990 when the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) presented him with the Outstanding Achievement Award for being the first franchised SAG agent in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Jess Mack Papers, 1916-1988. MS-00022. Special Collections, UNLV Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
Materials were donated in 1992 by Dorothy Mack and Richard Saunders; accession number 1992-023.
Material was processed by Special Collections staff in 1992. Further processing was completed by Joyce Moore in 2011. In 2014, as part of a legacy finding aid conversion project, Lindsay Oden revised and enhanced the collection description to bring it into compliance with current professional standards. Subsequently Lindsay Oden entered the data into ArchivesSpace.