Spencer Tracy

Spencer Tracy

Spencer Tracy plays a supportive role in his second Grand Rapids performance as Rossmore in “The Bootleggers”

Introducing Newest Member of Broadway Players’

A young 24 year old Spencer Tracy arrives in Grand Rapids nearly halfway through William H. Wright’s Broadway Players’ Second Season in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His first performance is in the Broadway Players’ stage production of; “The Meanest Man in the World” at Powers’ Theatre, Monday 16 June 1924. Considered an actor of ability, he was imported to play an important role in the first George M. Cohan production to be presented by the Broadway Players.

It was his second season at Powers’ with William H. Wright’s Broadway Players that Spencer makes the transition from supporting actor to leading man opposite Selena Royle, one of Broadway’s shining stars.

Hotel Browning where Spencer Tracy and a cast of others lived during resident stock while performing at Powers' Theatre in the 1920s. Shown here in 1938

Hotel Browning where Spencer Tracy and a cast of others lived during resident stock while performing at Powers’ Theatre in the 1920s. Shown here in 1938

Selena Royle arrives in Grand Rapids just one week after Spencer. She will prove to be the best contact of his career. It is through Selena and the Royle family connections in New York that Spencer makes his big break into Broadway and on to Hollywood, and it all came together in Grand Rapids.

Tue 10 Jun – Spencer begins rehearsing “The Meanest Man in the World”

Mon 16 Jun – Sun 22 Jun 1924
The Meanest Man in the World
Role: Carlton Childs, an idealistic young businessman

Spencer then heads back to Milwaukee across the lake arriving wednesday 25 June 1924 in time to be at the birth of his son John Tracy born thursday morning 26 June.

Mon 14 Jul – Sun 20 Jul 1924
The Bootleggers
Role: Rossmore; the power behind the contraband

A Great New Biography on Spencer Tracy by James Curtis.

Finally, the one I’ve been waiting twenty years to be written. The one that covers his Grand Rapids years that kick-started his career. A compilation of never before published interviews by those who were there, nicely written into a narrative you can’t put down.

Spencer Tracy A New Biography by James Curtis in 2011.

Spencer Tracy A New Biography by James Curtis in 2011.


Tracy Family Grand Rapids Residences:
1924 — Hotel Browning, 72 Sheldon Blvd SE
1925–26 — Oakwood Manor Apartments, 547 Cherry St SE Apt ??

Oakwood Manor Apartments

Oakwood Manor Apartments







more to come…

5 thoughts on “Spencer Tracy

    • Pat,

      Sorry I didn’t see your comment until now. I’ve been researching the Grand Rapids newspapers on Stock Theatre Broadway/Wright Players. I have Spencer Tracy join late in the 1924 Spring Season.

      He returns in April 1925 for the Spring Season and soon begins as leading man for the Broadway Players opposite Selena Royle. Spencer again returns in 1926 for his final season with the Broadway Players.

      In July, at the end of the 1926 season Louise Treadwell (Mrs. Spencer Tracy) joins the Broadway Players for the last two plays of the season. After her last performance of “Hottentot” on August 1926 she will retire from acting to raise their son, John Tracy. The Tracy’s vacation in Wisconsin before heading to New York for the Fall Season.

      I’ve always felt Spencer returned sometime in 1927 and/or 1928 for a performance or two but I have yet to prove that. My grandmother, Lucille Cunningham was a child actress with the Wright Players. She’s also found in my blog. It’s been said from several family members she was asked to follow Spencer and Selena to New York but my great-grandparents wouldn’t hear of it. No child of theirs was going to be the bread winner in the family.

  1. When I was acting at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre in the 50’s Tracy always sent a congratulations telegram to us on opening night of a new season. After his death, his wife sent it. This was at the Saint Cecilia Auditorium. The Artistic director was Sydney Spade.

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