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Henry Grace and Michael L. Grace collection

 Collection — Item: Acc2010.013
Identifier: Coll2014-042

Scope and Contents

This collection includes photograph albums and other material from Hollywood set decorator, Henry Grace, as well as materials from his nephew, Michael L. Grace. Materials in the photograph albums, circa 1942-1986, document Henry's personal life, including his travels throughout Mexico; social gatherings and costume parties he attended, including one in which guest dressed in bird costumes; and art works he collected or used as inspiration for his set designs. The collection also includes Carnival gay cruises publicity material, posters, an article, and videotapes (VHS) collected by Michael L. Grace. The videotapes document Gamma Mu, a gay fraternity that became the target of investigation following Andrew Cunanan's 1997 murder spree.


  • 1942 - 2009


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.


Henry Wooten Grace was an Academy Award-winning motion picture set decorator. He was born on March 20, 1907 in Bakersfield, California, to Henry Barnett and Elsie Fowler Grace. He attended Glendale High School and Chouinard Art Institute. Soon after graduating from Chouinard, he started his career as a interior decorator and worked for several decoration firms before joining Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in the mid-1930s. During World War II, Grace enlisted in the United States military (branch unknown) and served in the South Pacific as an engineer. He was awarded a Bronze Star and rose to the rank of Captain before he was honorably discharged in 1946.

Following the war, he returned to MGM and remained with the studio throughout his 35 year career as a set decorator. He won the Academy Award for his work on Gigi (1958) and was nominated eight other times for his work on Blackboard Jungle, North by Northwest, Cimarron, How the West Was Won, The Unsinkable Molly Brown and others.

Henry Grace died on September 16, 1983 in Los Angeles.


"[Michael L. Grace] attended St. Paul's, University of Southern California, the Pasadena Playhouse, and San Francisco State University. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre and with the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera. He did graduate work at the American University of Beirut and the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on writing spec screenplays - in a way to avoid development hell in Hollywood."

"After working in media and public relations, Michael started working in development and as a writer. He was involved in developing horror films and wrote a cult film The Unseen. He then started working in television as a continuing writer on such series as Love Boat, Paper Dolls, and Knots Landing. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many un-credited rewrites on TV movies and features.

"He [produced] P.S. Your Cat is Dead by Pulitzer prize-winning author James Kirkwood, co-produced the touring productions of The Boy Friend and Meet Me in St. Louis, along with revival productions of Peter Pan in Australia and Canada. He wrote the stage thriller Final Cut which has had productions in the America and Canada. His one-man play, Kennedy—The Man Behind the Myth, was developed for HBO and produced theatrically."

"He is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award-winning musical Snoopy, based on Peanuts by Charles M. Schultz. He co-produced Snoopy and co-wrote the book."

"Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America and Dramatist Guild. He is former AIDS chair for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, board member of the San Francisco State University Foundation and founding member of the Children's Theatre Association - Kids Go Broadway."

"He is a continuing contributor to New York Social Diary and, through a life-long passion for travel and social history, has an award winning website: Cruising the Past. He is an expert on steamships and ocean travel from the 1930s until the 1950s. He has one of the largest private collections of ocean liner memorabilia in the USA. He is currently working on It’s the Love Boat... And How It Changed Cruising by Ship, a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. The ten year running show created today's cruise industry."

"He lives in West Hollywood, California."

Source: Excerpted from Michael L. Grace biography, (accessed September 4, 2014.)


2 Linear Feet (1 carton, 1 flat box, and 1 oversize item.)

Language of Materials



Photograph albums, biographical information, a painting, and other material from Hollywood set decorator, Henry Grace; as well as writings, publicity materials, and videotapes (VHS) from his nephew, Michael L. Grace. The bulk of the collection is Henry's photograph albums, circa 1942-1986, that document his travels throughout Mexico, social gatherings, costume parties, and art works he collected or used as inspiration for his set designs. The videotapes (VHS) collected by Michael are primarily related to the gay fraternity Gamma Mu.


The collection is divided into two series: (1) Henry Grace photographs and memorabilia, and (2) Michael L. Grace papers

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Michael Grace, June 1, 2010.

Processing Information

Formerly box #A266. Collection processed by Loni Shibuyama, September 2014.

  • Six framed advertisements for railroad companies.
Finding Aid to the Henry Grace and Michael L. Grace Collection, 1942-2009
Loni Shibuyama
© 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Repository Details

Part of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University of Southern California Repository

909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles California 90007 United States
(213) 821-2771