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"It is safe to say that Terrell, along with long-time Playhouse producer Mike Ellis, gained more fame for the New Hope-Lambertville area than any other persons."
-Charles Shaw, New Hope Gazette, December 4, 1986
St. John "Sinjun" Terrell contracted "incurable theater-itis" early on. He was the first Jack Armstrong on the radio series, Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy. He worked as a fire-eater in a carnival when he was sixteen years old. Later in life, his daring feats continued, when as a producer, he launched two prominent professional summer theaters in the Bucks County area. In 1939, he produced the Bucks County Playhouse's first season. He opened with a hit, Springtime for Henry starring Edward Everett Horton, followed through with a successful season, and closed with a profit. In 1949, he created and produced the country's first commercial arena-type theater under a tent, the Lambertville Music Circus, which he ran until 1970. He originated the re-enactment of Washington's Crossing of the Delaware in 1953 and, for twenty-five years on Christmas, he played the role of George Washington. He was an actor on Broadway in the 1930s, appearing in Elmer Rice's Judgement Day and Maxwell Anderson's Winterset. He has regularly appeared in television commercials throughout the years. He nurtures his interest in United States folk culture as a member of the Board of Directors of the Folk Culture Center of the Library of Congress.
St. John Terrell. Image courtesy of St. John Terrell.
Education and Training
Columbia University, New York, New York, 1934-1937
New York University, New York, New York, 1937
York Collegiate Institute, 1942-1943
Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, 1933-1934
Northwestern University, Evanstown, Illinios, 1946-1947
Connection to Bucks County
New Hope Gazette journalist, Charles Shaw, credited St. John Terrell, along with Mike Ellis, for gaining "more fame for the New Hope-Lambertville area than any other persons." He produced the first season of the Bucks County Playhouse in 1939, leading to a long, successful life as a theater. He created and produced the Lambertville Music Circus from 1949 to 1970. He originated the re-enactment of Washington Crossing the Delaware in 1953. He played the role of George Washington for twenty-five years, and the event survived his retirement to become an annual Christmas Day event.
Colleagues and Affiliations
Kenyon Nicholson, Henry Chapin, Theron Bamberger, Paul Cranston, Ben Rinker, Paul Whiteman, John Renninger, Ann Hawkes Hutton, Charles Child, Don Hedges, Moss Hart, Don Walker, Haila Stoddard, Harry Haeningsen, Wendell Wilkie, Richard Bennett, and Jack Kelly
Terrel produced the opening play of the Bucks County Playhouse, Springtime for Henry, with Edgar Everett Horton, Julie Hayon and Haila Stoddard in 1939.
He brought performers such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck, Phil Ochs, and Arlo Guthrie to the Lambertville Music Circus.
St. John Terrell as George Washington, n.d. James A. Michener Art Museum. Gift of Mike Ellis.
Three By Thurber, New York, New York, 1955
Springtime for Henry, First Producer of the Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1939-1940
Opened a summer theater in Connecticut, 1938
Created the Lambertville Music Circus, 1949-1970
George Washington crossing the Delaware, first re-enactment Christmas 1953, played the role of George Washington for twenty-five years
Judgement Day, Broadway debut, 1934
Winterset, Broadway, 1935
Walter Hampden's Repertory Company, toured, 1934-1935.
Summer stock productions, the Starlight Theatre, Pauling, New York, summer of 1935 and 1936.
Acted in many television commercials
Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy, NBC radio series
Little Orphan Annie, NBC radio program
Teaching and Professional Appointments
General Manager of theater productions at the Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1939-1940
Producer and Director, the Lambertville Music Circus, 1949-1970
Stage manager and speech advisor for Wendell Wilkie, 1940
Worked for Reta Terrell's Perfumes Company
Editor, New Hope Gazette, 1960s
Appointed by John F. Kennedy as Federal Chairman of the New Jersey Tercentenary Celebration Commission
Appointed by New York Governor Hughes as co-chairman of Lyndon B. Johnson's Birthday Celebration, August 27, 1964
Affiliations and Memberships
Member, Board of Directors of the Folk Life Center of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.