Marquee Magazine Archives Donated to McMaster University
Filed under Library News: Archives & Research Collections
A significant collection of publicity materials from an era that produced some of the biggest box-office successes in Hollywood history—Star Wars, Chariots of Fire, E.T., Raging Bull, Apocalypse Now, Silence of the Lambs, Pulp Fiction and Titanic among them—has been donated to McMaster University by alumnus David Haslam, founder of Marquee magazine, and his wife Alexandra Lenhoff.
Marquee was distributed in theatres nationwide and became the premiere platform for movie studios wanting to promote new releases in Canada. The gloss stock, exclusive artwork and top-line journalists writing feature articles all added caché to a magazine that lives on in the online collectables market where single-copy back issues continue to be bought and sold.
This unique collection—more than 5,000 files (stretching more than 300 feet)—consists of print and photographic materials on almost every motion picture produced from the 1970s to 2004. Included in the archive are press kits, never-before-seen photographs, newspaper and magazine articles, graphics, and news clippings. By example, the file on E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) contains two separate press kits, studio press releases, articles from international magazines (People, Entertainment, Time, etc.), original articles by Canada’s top film critics of the day—George Anthony, Clyde Gilmour—and transcripts of interviews with screenwriter Melissa Mathison and director Steven Spielberg.
The collection also contains a complete set of Marquee magazines. Only four other complete collections are known to exist.
“It is a wonderful archival history of the film industry during the last quarter century,” says Carl Spadoni, director of McMaster University’s Archives and Research Collections. “These materials aren’t available in books or on the web. Film buffs and scholars will love it.”
Haslam was born and raised in Saint John, N.B., and attended McMaster University in the late 1960s where he studied Fine Arts. His passion was always film, and he quickly started organizing first-run film screenings for the Graduate Students Union, later expanding screenings to other universities in southern Ontario. Like fellow alumni Eugene Levy, Ivan Reitman, Martin Short, and Dave Thomas, the film industry was a magnet for Haslam, and it became a career-long passion that took him into the heart of Hollywood and beyond where he met a marquee billing of stars, directors and movie moguls.
“As a child I was quite sick, and movies were an escape from my illness,” Haslam says. “Encouraged by my parents, I attended movies every week; sometimes twice a week. I grew up in movie theatres, and was fascinated with anything to do with movies and the people behind them.”
After a brief stint with Paramount Pictures’ Showbill magazine, Haslam boldly launched Marquee in 1976. Originally published as a quarterly, Marquee went to six, then eight, then 10 issues a year, before finally became a monthly. Marquee’s circulation increased from 135,000 copies in its first year to an astonishing 700,000 copies at its peak. Haslam’s company, Marquee Communications, successfully expanded into syndicated radio programming, licensing, promotions and specialty book publishing. Haslam is co-author of The Movies of the 80s (1990) with film critic/screenwriter/novelist Ron Base.
by Jane Christmas
A story about this donation also appeared on the front page of the Hamilton Spectator.