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Debenham, Warren, 1933-


Biographical / Historical Note

Warren Debenham was born January 20, 1933 in San Francisco. He studied college at Stanford University and seminary at General Theological Seminary in New York City, and at The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA. One of the foremost collectors in the U.S. with more than 40,000 comedy LPs, 45s, 78s and CDs, Warren Debenham has been collecting comedy albums and humor ephemera for more than 60 years. His LP record collection of comedy and spoken word albums is expansive, and to supplement it he has also collected novelty items, newspaper clippings, toys, and other ephemera. He is considered an authority on comedy recordings, and is often consulted to contribute to catalogs and the indexing of other collections in this field such as the Dr. Demento online playlists, and the Stan Freberg discography. He has worked with Marshall Berle in releasing albums for including Bill Dana’s "Greatest Bits of Jose Jimenez" in 2000. A member of the clergy, collecting has been a pastime and fervent hobby of the Reverend. He was the first rector of the Thomas Episcopal Church of Sunnyvale, CA serving from 1960 as Vicar, and from 1965 - 1973 as Rector. He was Rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Albany, CA, did a neighborhood ministry in West Oakland, CA and is now retired and assists part time at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in downtown Oakland. He lives in Berkeley, CA with his wife, Sally. The San Francisco Public Library has received half of his extensive comedy LP, 45 RPM, 78 RPM, and CD records with the other half to be received after his death. Rev. Debenham, who was seeking a home for his collection, sent the materials to Boston in December 2007.

Found in 10 Collections and/or Records:

Comedian Clippings, 1960 - 2000

Identifier: ACC-MSS 013-1
Scope and Contents

This series consists mainly of newspaper and magazine clippings collected by Warren Debenham from the late 1960’s to the early 2000’s. Some of the folders also contain photos, postcards, programs, and other ephemera.

Dates: 1960 - 2000

Long playing (LP) records, 1955-1988

Identifier: US MBE ACC-MSS 004-1
Scope and Contents This series documents stand-up and improvisational comedy, and humorous music from 1955-1988. In addition to the recordings of individual comics such as Morey Amsterdam, Nan Blackstone, Belle Barth, Shelley Berman, Buddy Hackett, the Smothers Brothers, and Jackie Vernon, the series contains compilations featuring the work of Billy DeWolf, and Jane Foray, and Marty Brill. The voices of John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Eugene McCarthy are among the recordings that comprise the political humor...
Dates: 1955-1988

Magazines, 1942 - 2006

Identifier: ACC-MSS 013-2
Scope and Contents

This series contains magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and journals from 1942 to 2006.

Dates: 1942 - 2006

Movie Stills, Lobby Cards, and Sheet Music, 1937 - 1986

Identifier: ACC-MSS 013-3
Scope and Contents

This series contains lobby cards, movie posters, and sheet music from 1937 to 1986.

Dates: 1937 - 1986


Identifier: ACC-MSS 003-1
Scope and Contents

This series contains novelty comedy items, including t-shirts, games, joke machines, puzzles, and lunch boxes.

Dates: 1950 - 2006

Posters and Cut-outs

Identifier: ACC-MSS 003-2
Scope and Contents

This series contains promotional items and displays for comedy movies, videos and albums. These items were not available to the general public, but were distributed to record stores, video stores and radio stations.

Dates: 1950 - 2006

Steve Martin Ephemera

Identifier: ACC-MSS 003-3
Scope and Contents

Among the Steve Martin ephemera, there are some newspaper clippings, a photograph, and a paperback book.

Dates: 1950 - 2006

The Reverend Warren Debenham Comedy Ephemera Collection

Identifier: ACC-MSS 013
Scope and Contents

The collection consists of comedian clippings, magazines, and movie ephemera, such as sheet music, posters, and lobby cards. The extensive collection of magazines includes Harpoon, Just for Laughs, and Rave. The broad arrangement of sheet music ranges from the early vaudeville years to the more recent 20th century movies.

Dates: 1937 - 2006

The Reverend Warren Debenham Comedy Novelty Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: ACC-MSS 003
Scope and Contents

The collection consists of television, radio, film and stand-up comedy ephemera, such as t-shirts, video- and record-store displays, board games, toys, trading cards, novelties and posters, all relating to comedy and comedians. Collection Highlights: - Steve Martin arrow-through-the-head kit. - Don Adams-endorsed Skittle Poker and Skittle Pool games. - Happy Days lunch box. - Pee-wee Herman ventriloquist doll.

Dates: 1950 - 2006

The Reverend Warren Debenham Comedy Sound Collection

Identifier: ACC-MSS 004
Scope and Contents The Reverend Warren Debenham Comedy Sound Collection documents American comedy from the early 1930s through 2006 and consists of long playing albums and compact discs of live performances, spoken word recordings, humorous music, musical theater, and film soundtracks. In addition to recordings of individual comics, the collection contains compilations of various comedians. Also included are compilations of radio series, among them "Our Miss Brooks," "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show,"...
Dates: 1955 - 2006

Additional filters:

Archival Record 7
Collection 3
Stand-up Comedy 3
Fanzines 2
Film comedies 2
Humor 2
Television Comedies 2