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Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 2129

Scope and Contents

Contains papers, photographs, and audio-visual materials dealing with both Robert and Mary Cummings' careers. Most of the materials deal with Robert's career in film, stage, radio, and the production of his television program "The Bob Cummings Show." These include correspondence, photographs, audio-visual materials such as audiotapes, videotapes and various 8mm and 16mm film reels. Also included are numerous financial and investment records on various production companies run by Cummings and his wife including personal correspondence and legal and financial documentation on divorce proceedings between Cummings and Mary from 1967 to 1970. Also included are scrapbooks covering Robert and Mary's careers, and information and photographs regarding Robert's interest in aviation. Dated approximately 1890-1990.


  • approximately 1880-1990
  • Majority of material found within 1940-1970


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical History

Robert Cummings (1908-1990) was an American motion picture and television star.

Born Charles Clarence Robert Orville Cummings on June 9, 1908, Robert (or Bob) Cummings grew up in Joplin, Missouri with parents Dr. Charles Clarence Cummings and Ruth Annabelle Kraft. His godfather was Orville Wright, an influence that created a lifelong love for aviation. Cummings served for two years as a flight instructor during World War II. He briefly studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and then at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. To launch his career, he used various enterprising techniques to obtain roles. On Broadway, he got roles by introducing himself as an Englishman named Blade Stanhope Conway. In a similar manner, he began his Hollywood career as a Texan named Bryce Hutchins. Soon after he started using his real name once again.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Cummings established a successful career in both film and television. While he was largely known for light comedies, he also proved his dramatic talents in movies like "Saboteur" (1942) and "Dial M For Murder" (1954) and won an Emmy for his role in a TV production of "12 Angry Men" (1954). He was best known as a playboy photographer in his popular sitcom, "The Bob Cummings Show" (also known as "Love That Bob," 1955-59). He was a firm believer in health foods and vitamins and published a book on healthy living entitled, "Stay Young and Vital" (1960). He was married five times and fathered seven children. Cummings died on December 2, 1990.

Biographical History

Mary Elliott Cummings (1917-2000) was an actress and then a manager for her husband's, Robert Cummings, career.

Mary Elliott Daniels was born on October 25, 1917 in Gaffney, South Carolina to parents Hoyle Holmes Daniels and Eva Mae Good. She participated in singing, dancing and beauty contests throughout her youth, and was crowned South Carolina's Azalea Queen in 1935. She then went on to sing in nightclubs and became a model and actress in California for the beginnings of her early career. In 1942-1944, Mary participated in a tour in the South Pacific, entertaining the troops in World War II with various acting performances. On March 3, 1945, she married Hollywood actor Robert Cummings in Riverside, California. Once married, she left acting and became a mother of five children with Cummings. She also became the manager of her husband's financial investments. During the years of 1969-1970, the Cummings separated and divorced. She worked alongside many charity organizations throughout her life. She died on April 9, 2000 in Los Angeles, California.


221 boxes (110.5 linear ft.)

33 film boxes (4.95 linear ft.)

13 film boxes (2.6 linear ft.)

4 film boxes (0.4 linear ft.)

3 oversize boxes (1.8 linear ft.)

2 oversize boxes (1.4 linear ft.)

5 oversize boxes (4.25 linear ft.)

14 oversize boxes (17.5 linear ft.)

1 ledger box (0.5 linear ft.)

1 oversize box (1.45 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Arranged in thirteen series: 1. Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings papers on early life, approximately 1880-1961. 2. Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings papers on family life, 1944-1981. 3. Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings correspondence, 1942-1980. 4. Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings financial records, 1943-1972. 5. Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings investments, 1939-1979. 6. Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings papers on aviation, 1942-1970. 7. Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings health advocacy, 1954-1972. 8. Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings philanthropy, 1961-1971. 9. Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings papers on motion pictures, approximately 1940-1971. 10. Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings papers on television shows, 1945-1990. 11. Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings papers on stage and radio, 1945-1973. 12. Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings general papers, 1900-1979. 13. Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings scrapbooks, approximately 1939-1970.

Custodial History

The papers were gathered by Robert Cummings's third wife, Mary Elliott Cummings, during his career in Hollywood. The papers were then passed on to their daughter, Melinda, who donated them to Brigham Young University in 1997, 1999, 2013, and 2018.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Melinda Cummings; 1997.

Donated; Melinda Cummings; 1999.

Donated; Melinda Cummings; 2013.

Donated; Melinda Cummings; 2018.


Film Music Archives (Arts and Communications collecting policy; March 2020).


Boxes 199-205, 227-228 contain negatives that need to be housed in the freezer.

Processing Information

Processed; Norm Gillespie; 1997.

Processed; Norm Gillespie; 1999.

Processed; Jim D'Arc; 2013.

Processed; Beth Chestnut, student manuscript processor; 2018.

Processed; Meghan Hoesch, Shaelyn Taylor, Kate Bradley, Alyssa Pitts, student manuscript processors and Ben Harry, curator; 2020.

  • Photographs, cards, pamphlets, fliers, notes, invitations, posters, memos, correspondence, notes, clippings, bills, checks, bank statements, court documents, tax documents, receipts, check balance books, school papers, wallpaper and curtain samples, black bag, phone books, printer manuals, several Bibles, travel material such as brochures, itineraries, receipts
Register of Robert and Mary Elliott Cummings papers
In Progress
Garrett Schroath
2011 June 24
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States