Terry Baum (Playwright & Actress): Baum, a pioneer lesbian playwright, has toured internationally as a solo performer. Most recently in 2013, Baum toured South Africa with her play, Lesbo Solo! She has had her plays published, produced all over the world, and translated into French, Dutch, Italian, and Swedish. Dos Lesbos (1981, with Carolyn Myers) was the first time many lesbians saw their lives accurately portrayed in the media. It inspired the first anthology of lesbian plays (Places, Please, 1985). Baum has toured the U.S., Canada, Europe and Israel as a solo performer. Two of her short films have been shown at the LGBT Film Festival, San Francisco (1997, 2007). Baum ran for Mayor of San Francisco in 2011. She made a difference and had a good time.
Pat Bond (Playwright) Pat’s career was launched by her appearance in the landmark documentary about gay people, Word is Out, in 1973. This lesbian actress, writer, and comedienne toured the country in the 70’s and 80’s, telling stories about her life as a dyke in San Francisco in the 50’s, and as a WAC in the army during a witch hunt against lesbians after World War II. For thousands of gay people, Bond was the first out lesbian they had ever seen onstage. Bond wrote and toured solo shows on Gertrude Stein and Lorena Hickok. Pat Bond had had a crush on Eleanor Roosevelt since the age of seven. It was the fulfillment of a life-long passion to play Lorena Hickok.
Lilith Theater: The Bay Area’s internationally reknowned women’s theatre of the 1970s and 1980s, was founded in Berkeley, California in 1974, by Terry Baum, Charlotte Colavin, and Shelley Fields. Moving to San Francisco in 1976 and continuing through 1985, it produced collectively created original plays: Lilitheatre, Good Food, Moonlighting, Sacrifices, Exit the Maids, and productions by women playwrights: Pizza, by Michele Linfante, Manifesto by Dacia Maraini, The Daughters of Erin, by Carolyn Myers and Elizabeth Roden. A touring company at European and American Theater Festivals, Lilith also gave an impromptu performance during a ferry strike, and was caught in the Mt. Saint Helens eruption. Now, after a hiatus of a few decades, Terry Baum and Carolyn Myers have revived Lilith Theater. Lilith returned the Bay Area theater scene with its production of Terry Baum’s solo play: Hick: A Love Story.
Lorena Hickok was born in 1893 in rural Wisconsin, into desperate poverty. At the age of 14, her mother died and her father kicked her out of the house. She worked as a hired girl, completing high school with the help of an aunt. Her journalism career began at the Battle Creek Journal, in 1913, writing for the women’s page. At the Minneapolis Tribune, starting in 1917, Hickok became known for the humor and humanity of her writing. She eventually became a top reporter for the Associated Press, in NY. By 1932, she was the nation's best-known woman journalist. She and Eleanor Roosevelt (ER) fell in love when Hickok was assigned to cover the future First Lady during the 1932 Presidential campaign.
After FDR became President, Hickok had to leave journalism, as her close proximity to the President compromised her. She was chief investigator for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), reporting on the suffering of the Great Depression, and the effects of the New Deal. Her reports were posthumously published as a book, One-Third of a Nation. Hickok’s writing for FERA is considered an invaluable description of the Great Depression.
Hickok inspired several of Eleanor Roosevelt's initiatives, including her daily syndicated column, her all-women press conferences, and her planned community at Arthurdale, WV. She vacationed with ER, and Eleanor went with her on an investigative trip to Puerto Rico. When not on the road, Hickok lived at the White House.
From 1936 to 1939, Hickok worked as publicist for the New York World’s Fair. During this time, the relationship between Hickok and Mrs. Roosevelt evolved from a love affair into a deep friendship that lasted Mrs. Roosevelt’s life. From 1940 to 1945, Hickok worked for the Democratic National Committee, living at the White House for most of this time.
Hickok had several love relationships with other women after Mrs. Roosevelt – most importantly with Marion Harron, a tax court judge in Maryland. But since the First Lady remained her first priority, none of the relationships lasted.
Hickok lived out her final years at Hyde Park near Mrs. Roosevelt. She published several books, including biographies of Helen Keller and Mrs. Roosevelt herself. She died in1968. Her feature stories are still studied in journalism schools, as examples of entertaining and heartfelt writing.
Eleanor Roosevelt was born into the American aristocracy, in a family ravaged by alcoholism. She was the favorite niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. She married rising politician Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1905 and became fully immersed in public service. By the time she arrived in the White House as First Lady in 1933, Mrs. Roosevelt had overcome a painful childhood, a domineering mother-in-law, and her discovery of FDR’s enduring love affair with another woman. She was deeply committed to a public life of her own, fighting against injustice, racism and advancing the rights of women.
During the longest tenure of any First Lady, which included the Great Depression, the New Deal and World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt remained a controversial figure because of her outspoken views and activities. She was the first presidential spouse to hold press conferences, write a syndicated newspaper column, and speak at a national convention. In 1939 she publicly stood up for Marian Anderson when the African-American singer was denied the use of Washington’s Constitution Hall because of her race. She arranged for Anderson instead to perform on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
After FDR’s death in 1945, Mrs. Roosevelt was appointed as a delegate to the United Nations by President Harry Truman. As chair of the Human Rights Commission, she used her influence and prestige to persuade the UN General Assembly to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The legacy of her words and work appears in the constitutions of scores of nations and in an evolving body of international law that now protects the rights of people across the world. In the last two years of her life, from Jan. 1961 until Nov. 1962, she served as chair for President Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women, the first governmental organization of its kind.Throughout her life, Eleanor Roosevelt was supported by important relationships with dedicated, intelligent, exceptional women. Marie Souvestre, a lesbian and a feminist educator who sought to develop independent minds in young women, became a surrogate mother during ER’s late adolescence. In 1920, Mrs. Roosevelt met Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook, a lesbian couple who became her closest friends. With them, in 1925, she created the Val-Kill partnership, sometimes housed in Mrs. Roosevelt’s own home in Hyde Park. This mutually supportive partnership eventually included the Women’s Democratic News, which Mrs. Roosevelt edited, the Todhunter School for Girls, where Marion Dickerman was president, and the Val-Kill furniture factory, over which Nancy Cook presided. In 1928, Malvina “Tommy” Thompson became Mrs. Roosevelt’s private secretary. Entirely loyal to her boss, she maintained her position at Mrs. Roosevelt’s side until her death in 1953. Most importantly of all, in 1932, Mrs. Roosevelt fell in love with Lorena Hickok, a journalist, who had been assigned to cover Mrs. Roosevelt during her husband's first presidential campaign. For several years following, the two corresponded almost every day, traveled together, and consistently professed emotional and physical affection for one another. More than 3,000 letters from the pair's correspondence are preserved at the FDR Library in Hyde Park, NY. Their close friendship and working collaboration, on Mrs. Roosevelt’s writing and other projects, continued after their love affair ended, until Mrs. Roosevelt’s death in 1962.