Guide to the Harold V. Cohen Papers, c. 1920-1996

Rauh Jewish Archives

Summary Information

Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center
Harold V. Cohen Papers
Harold V. Cohen
Collection Number
Date [inclusive]
c. 1920-1996
1.75 linear feet (1 box and 1 shelf volume)
Language of Materials
The material in this collection is in English.
Harold V. Cohen was a Jewish drama and movie critic and columnist for the Pittsburgh'Post-Gazette newspaper for forty years from 1929 until 1969, when he suddenly passed away. Five days a week he wrote his column "Drama Desk."
Sponsor Note
Generous support for this project was provided by the PNC Charitable Trusts- J. Samuel and Rose Y. Cox Foundation and the Giant Eagle Foundation.

Preferred Citation

Harold V. Cohen Papers, c. 1920-1996, MSS#334, Rauh Jewish Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center

This collection has been previously cited as: Papers of Harold V. Cohen, 1926-1993, MSS#334, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania.

Return to Table of Contents »


Harold V. Cohen was born in Wampum, Pennsylvania, near New Castle in 1906. As a child, Cohen showed immense interest in theater and the stage, participating in high school plays and later in the university setting. In 1926, he graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. During his time at the university, he was also editor of the Collegian, the campus student newspaper.

After graduation, Cohen was employed as a copy editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Along with being a copy editor, Cohen also reviewed movies on his own time. In 1929, he was appointed movie critic for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and wrote a daily column entitled "Drama Desk." Cohen was named both movie and drama critic for the newspaper in 1936. Seven years later, in 1943, he became the drama editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In 1950, Cohen helped to establish the magazine TV Guide, of which he was associate editor and columnist while continuing to work at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He also wrote as the Pittsburgh correspondent for Variety, The Stage, and other entertainment publications.

Along with his well known daily column, Cohen was also involved in Pittsburgh radio and television. He founded Television News in Pittsburgh with his college friend, Bill Adler. He also hosted shows with his actress wife, Stephanie Diamond, and was the Sunday movie host for many years on KDKA-TV. The show was later moved to WTAE-TV where Cohen held the rating lead during that time period.

Harold V. Cohen won numerous awards for his critical writing and reviews of both the theater and motion pictures. In 1955, he was named Movie Critic of the Year by the Screen Director's Guild, which had studied reviews from 300 newspapers from across North America. He also was awarded the 1955 award of excellence from the Pittsburgh Newspaper Guild, the 1963 Western Pennsylvania Journalism Man of the Year award, and the 1967 Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater, the Pennsylvania State University.

A year after his sudden death in 1969, the Playhouse Actors Guild sponsored a scholarship to the Playhouse School of Theater in the name of Harold V. Cohen Foundation to be awarded to a qualified full-time student studying dramatic art at the school. He was a great friend of the Playhouse and gave encouragement to young people breaking into the entertainment business, many of whom were or still involved in their careers.

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope and Content Notes

The collection contains a small amount of sketches, columns written by Cohen, newspaper clippings mentioning him, and correspondence from friends, family, colleagues, and admirers. Also within the collection are Western Union telegrams and various clippings that have become disjointed from the original Screen Director's Guild Award shelf volume.

Return to Table of Contents »


The collection consists of one shelf volume and one archival box and is arranged alphabetically.

Return to Table of Contents »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Rauh Jewish Archives Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania  Senator John Heinz History Center, October 2009

Senator John Heinz History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Revision Description

  Encoded finding aid revised by Theresa E. Rea to incorporate changes in the arrangement of materials and the finding aid.   Converted from EAD Version 1.0 to EAD Version 2002.  October 8, 2009July 1, 2006

Restrictions on Access

No Restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with the Senator John Heinz History Center. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Library and Archives of the Senator John Heinz History Center.

Acquisition Information

Gifts of Eugene Cohen and his wife Marion Cohen on November 15, 1996 and November 4, 1997.

Processing Information

This collection was originally processed by Julie Niklaus on May 25, 2001. Further processing and rearrangement of the collection provided by  Theresa E. Rea on September 14, 2009.

Return to Table of Contents »

Related Materials

Separated Materials

Two boxes of photographs have been separated, arranged, and described as MSP#334.

Two oversize photographic albums and an oversize scrapbook have been separated and described as MSR#334.

Change of Pace: A collection of 22 favorite "Mirrors of Sport" Columns by Havey J. Boyle. Reprinted from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was transferred to the library.

Return to Table of Contents »

Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Pennsylvania State University.
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • Collegian.
  • Screen Director's Guild.
  • Pittsburgh Newspaper Guild.
  • Playhouse Actors Guild.
  • Harold V. Cohen Foundation.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Wampum (Pa.)
  • New Castle (Pa.)
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.)
  • Hollywood (Ca.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Cohen, Harold V. (1906-1969).
  • Cohen, Stephanie Diamond.
  • Adler, Bill.


  • Jews--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Newspapers--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Motion Picture Critics--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Theater Critics--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.

Return to Table of Contents »

Collection Inventory

Artwork n.d. 11

Return to Table of Contents »

Section: Columns 

"Drama Desk" c. 1960-1969 2
Hollywood 1933 3
Miscellaneous c. 1940 4

Return to Table of Contents »

Condolence Letters to the Editor 1969 5

Return to Table of Contents »

Condolence Letters to Stephanie Diamond 1969-1970 6

Return to Table of Contents »

Section: Newspaper Clippings 

Critics' Columns n.d. 7
Obituaries and Tributes (copies) 1969-1970 8
Wampum, Pa. n.d., 1996 9

Return to Table of Contents »

Section: Pennsylvania State University 

Correspondence and Clippings c. 1923-1926 10
Documents 1923-1926 11

Return to Table of Contents »

Return to Table of Contents »

Section: Screen Director's Guild Award Scrapbook Removed Material 

Congratulatory Letters and Correspondence 1954-1955 10
"Movie Critic of the Year" 1954 11
Western Union Telegrams 1955 12

Return to Table of Contents »

Wampum and New Castle High Schools c. 1920 13

Return to Table of Contents »