The American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA) is an American entertainment union representing performers in variety entertainment, including circuses, Las Vegas showrooms and cabarets, comedy showcases, dance revues, magic shows, theme park shows, and arena and auditorium extravaganzas. There is some overlap between the jurisdictions of AGVA and Actors' Equity.
American Guild of Variety Artists
|Headquarters||New York City, New York|
AGVA was the successor to the American Federation of Actors organized by actress and singer Sophie Tucker and others in the late 1930s, and affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. In 1939 the AFL dissolved the AFA due to financial irregularities, and issued a new charter to AGVA (although some members went to Equity instead).
In 1963, then-AGVA president Joey Adams helped to finance and organize an August 5 variety show in Birmingham, Alabama, to raise funds for the August 28 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Sharing the stage with Martin Luther King Jr. were Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Joe Louis, Johnny Mathis, James Baldwin and The Shirelles.
In 1958–59, the actress, singer and tap dancer Penny Singleton became the first woman elected president of an AFL-CIO union. She was active in supporting the 1967 strike of the AGVA-represented Rockettes against Radio City Music Hall), and was re-elected to the AGVA presidency in 1969. The most recent executive president was poet, songwriter, composer, and singer Rod McKuen, who held the post for 19 years until his death in 2015. As of the September 2021 vote count, the honorary president was Tommy Tune, the honorary vice-president was Barry Humphries, and the executive president was Judy Little.
AGVA's offices are in New York and Los Angeles.
AGVA Entertainer of the Year Awards, or the "Georgie Award" (after George M. Cohan), for variety performer of the year. Some of the past winners include:
- US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-147. Report submitted May 30, 2014.
- US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-147. (Search)
- "Sophie Spanked". Time. July 24, 1939. Archived from the original June 2, 2008.
- Ronk, Liz (August 27, 2013). "March on Washington: Rare Photos From a Star-Studded Fundraiser, 1963". Life. Archived from the original on July 5, 2015. Retrieved 2020-11-09.
Joey Adams (left), president of the American Guild of Variety Artists, on stage with the Shirelles.
- Shull, Leo (August 10, 1963). "Neither Heat, Bombs, Nor Birmingham Cops Shall Stop the Show—It Must Go On". Show Business. Vol. 23, no. 32. pp. 1, 10. Archived from the original on April 20, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2022 – via Hungry Blues.
- Luther, Claudia (November 14, 2013). "Penny Singleton, 95; Actress Played Blondie in 28 Movies, on Radio". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 6, 2021. Retrieved November 15, 2020.
After “Blondie,” Singleton became active in labor unions, particularly the American Guild of Variety Artists, to which she was elected president in 1969.
- "Accord is reached in Rockettes strike". The New York Times. October 13, 1967. Archived from the original on March 8, 2021. Retrieved November 15, 2020.
- "EXTRA, EXTRA...Variety News! - AGVA officer Election results are in!" AGVA website; September 25, 2021