Harold V. Cohen Photographs

What’s online?

The Harold V. Cohen Photographs online collection contains images that document Cohen’s life and career as a theater and movie critic for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Primarily dating between the 1910s and 1960s, the images depict Cohen with celebrities and his family. Also included are images of Cohen during his youth and collegiate days.

What’s in the entire collection?

The photographic collection of Harold V. Cohen contains images encompassing his life and career from early childhood until his death in 1969. Images in this collection typically contain Harold Cohen with a local or Hollywood celebrity, a solo shot of a celebrity, or Harold with his wife Stephanie or daughter Barbara.

About Harold V. Cohen

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. 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 copy editor, Cohen also reviewed movies on his own time.  In 1929, he was appointed movie critic for the 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 of 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 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 the Theater in the name of the Harold V. Cohen Foundation to be awarded to a qualified full-time student studying dramatic art at the school.

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