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Bernard Bragg

Bernard Bragg

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Bernard Bragg

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  1. Bernard Bragg By: Candice Pellak

  2. The Early Years • He was born on September 27, 1928 in Brooklyn, NY • He was an only child with deaf parents • His dad managed & directed a small deaf amateur theater group • Went to school at Fanwood where he met a teacher named Bob Panara who influenced him to act • Panara produced “A Christmas Carol” & Bragg co directed & played the part of Scrooge • He graduated in 1947

  3. Gallaudet • He went to Gallaudet & had leading roles in, “The Miser,” “The Bourgeois Gentleman,” & “Tartuffe” • He was voted best actor of the year twice while at Gallaudet • He graduated in 1952

  4. After Gallaudet • Bragg began teaching English at the California School for the Deaf in Berkely • He attended night school at San Francisco State College • He majored in education & minored in drama • In 1956 he met the famous French mime, Marcel Marceau, who invited him to study in Paris over the summer • He went to Paris that summer

  5. Working as a Mime • When he came back from Paris, Bragg performed mime all over the country • He got a weekend job at “The Backstage,” a San Francisco nightclub • He was commended by LIFE magazine as one of the best small nightclub performers in America • He performed in different nightclubs, theaters, & private parties

  6. TV Debut • Bragg met Janet Mason who worked at NET (now PBS) & she offered him a weekly job so that he didn’t have to quit teaching • He acted out Aesop’s fables & fairy tales • He was offered his own show “The Quiet Man” (1957-1963) • On his show he did improvisations & specials including, “A Christmas Carol” & “Hamlet” • He mimed all characters on his show

  7. Continuing His Career & NTD • While still teaching, Bragg performed all over the country & world • He was nicknamed “Houdini of Pantomime” • He helped found the National Theater of the Deaf in 1967 • David Hays asked Bragg to choose other deaf performers from NTD for their 1st effort, ‘NBC Experiment in TV with the NTD” • The Alexander Graham Bell Association unsuccessfully tried to get the program not to air • NTD’s 1st production was “Gianni Schicchi”

  8. Traveling Abroad • In 1969, Bragg went to Russia & worked with deaf actors, learned Russian Sign Language, & was in the play, “Prometheus Unbound” • After 10 years with NTD, he took a 1 year break • He went on a 6 month tour to 25 countries as the American Goodwill Ambassador to deaf and hearing • He left NTD when he came home, and continued as a lecturer in NTD’s professional School for the Deaf Theatre

  9. More Productions • He had a role in the CBS movie, “And Your Name Is Jonah” that aired in January 1979 • He collaborated with Gene Bergman in an ASL play “Tales from a Clubroom”-it premiered at the 1980 NAD Centennial Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio • For 15 years he was a Visiting Professor & artist-in-residence at Gallaudet (1979-1994) • He wrote his autobiography “Lessons in Laughter” in 1989 • He co-wrote “Meeting Halfway in American Sign Language: A Common Ground for Effective Communication Among Deaf & Hearing People” (published in 1994 by Deaf Little Press)

  10. Awards • He won the International Medal from the World Federation of the Deaf for his service to the deaf world • He got an honorary doctorate from Gallaudet shortly after DPN

  11. In the Present • He is still performing and he prefers live audiences because he enjoys interacting with them during his shows