Web Exclusive: Oscar Hammerstein explains how he started doing family history

Hammerstein Vaudeville house.jpg
Web Exclusive: Oscar Hammerstein explains how he started doing family history (Photo provided by Oscar Andy Hammerstein)

(KUTV) The first thing Oscar Andy Hammerstein III did when he decided to learn more about his grandfather, Oscar Hammerstein II, and his family was to make a family tree.

Then he determined who was still alive and decided to talk to them.

"In one case, I hit the jackpot, and that changed my life forever," he said.

He found the widow of a descendant of his great-great-grandfather, Oscar Hammerstein I. Her husband, Teddy, had been involved in the theater business.

"The conversation was completely fruitless," he described. "She didn't like the theater, she was never invited to the theater, she was mean-spirited about the whole thing."

Even though the conversation didn't go well, he still asked the woman if she had any material that had to do with the family. Turns out, she had a box in the attic full of photographs, a scrapbook, and even program books from theater shows.

"It was one of those situations where something happens and it changes your life," Hammerstein said.

From then on, he devoted a lot of his time in order to sort through what he found in the box.

"It became a hobby that got out of control," he said. "I collected material and I collected material like a silly pack rat for years until I realized that I was going over the same ground and that just for my mental health I had to write a book about it."

Click here for more about his book, "Hammersteins: A Musical Theatre Family."

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