MANGUM, EDWARD (1913–2001). Edward Mangum, drama professor and theater director, was born in 1913 in Greenville, Texas. He attended high school and Wesley College in Greenville before attending East Texas State College in Commerce, Texas.
Mangum moved to the Washington, D.C., area and became managing director in 1937 of the Mount Vernon Methodist Church Players. Under his guidance, the company grew in ten years from a 19-member amateur company performing in the church sanctuary to a 150-member company performing in a 300-seat theater. He was hired on a full-time basis at Mount Vernon in 1944 and simultaneously enrolled in the Master's program in speech and drama at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He received his M.A. in 1947, having studied under Walter Kerr, later an influential drama critic for the New York Herald-Tribune and New York Times.
He then accepted a teaching position at George Washington University, where he helped develop the university's first degree program in theater. Among his students there were Zelda and Tom Fichandler, with whom he cofounded Washington's Arena Stage Theater, one of the nation''s first professional companies outside New York City, in 1950.
After managing Arena Stage for two years, Mangum left for a position in Hawaii, and subsequently spent seven years abroad, studying theater in Germany, Turkey, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Iran, and Pakistan. During this time he established a cultural exchange program between the United States and Asia. Mangum was the first American to direct in the German professional theater after World War II, when he undertook the first-ever whiteface production of The Green Pastures at Frankfurt's Stadtliche Buehnen. The German-language production played to packed houses for more than a year in 1958–1959. He also worked at the Fred Miller Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and served as a consultant to the American National Theatre and Academy in New York City.
He returned to Texas in the early 1960s, teaching briefly at the University of Texas at Austin and Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and also directing local professional summer-stock productions. Beginning in 1965 he built from scratch an active drama department at St. Edward's University in Austin, and helped design the university's Mary Moody Northen Theater, modeled in part on the original Arena Stage. Over the years, Mangum convinced well-known professional actors such as William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Godfrey Cambridge to perform with his students at St. Edward's. At St. Edward's he became chairman of the Department of Fine Arts and in 1975 was named to the theater advisory panel of the Texas Commission on the Arts and Humanities. After his 1982 retirement as Minnie Stevens Piper Professor of Theater Arts, Mangum and his wife Maria Francesca Martinez-Mangum lived in Austin. He died in that city of an aneurism following surgery on January 10, 2001.
CUA [Catholic University of America] Magazine website (http://publicaffairs.cua.edu/cuamag/fa98/alumni/mangum.htm), accessed 2/13/01 10:40 a.m. Austin American-Statesman, July 7, 1963; January 14, 1975; January 12, 2001.