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Gift of rare film collection boosts School’s cinematic holdings

A substantial collection of moving image materials appraised at $32 million has been donated to the University of Miami’s School of Communication, boosting the school’s stature in cinematic holdings and establishing it among the top film study programs in the academic world.

Norton Herrick, chair of Herrick Entertainment, a motion picture and theatrical production and financing company, has donated to UM his Video Yesteryear Archive, an influential collection of rare and obscure films and television programs.

“I have always felt that this collection could be very beneficial to a film school or an academic department specializing in film and communications,” said Herrick. “I am thrilled to know that it is in good hands at UM and that a multitude of new generations of film and communications students can access and study it.”

The films and programs, together with a previously donated collection known as the Raymond J. Regis Motion Picture Archives, will allow the School of Communication to offer a rich archive of material to students and scholars. With a total of more than 7,000 titles, the school will be among a very elite group to provide its students and faculty with such a resource.

“This is a cinematic treasure trove,” said Sam L Grogg, dean of the School of Communication and a producer and executive producer of numerous theatrical and television films. “The Herrick donation will support our motion picture faculty in their dedicated effort to build a vibrant cinema culture on campus. We look forward to the scholarly and creative work that will be inspired by the collection.”

The Norton Herrick collection includes approximately 3,500 high-quality films in two formats from the golden age of moving pictures spanning the 1930s though the 1970s. Some of the rare films include early silent films featuring Hollywood stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Mack Sennett’s The Keystone Cops. Among the animated features, there are early Betty Boop, Felix the Cat, and Bosko cartoons. The Golden Age of television is also represented in the collection, including programs such as This Is Your Life, The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show, and The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.

“Both students and faculty eagerly await the arrival of the collection,” notes Dia Kontaxis, Motion Picture Program director. “It is a prized possession to any program that prides itself in producing original scholarship on classical and marginalized cinema.”

The donation includes a monetary component to digitize the films and to store and maintain the collection. The collection will be integrated into the curriculum of the school’s Motion Picture Program.

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