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Ben Gradus Crowded Paradise Collection

 Unprocessed Material — Box: 1
Identifier: 2015-006

Content Description

A Crowded Paradise was a commercial low-budget film co-sponsored by the Migration Division (OGPRUS) and produced by Ben Gradus to address issues dealing with Puerto Ricans migration to New York City as they faced racial discrimination and had difficulties finding adequate housing conditions. The film was directed by Fred Pressburger and Ben Gradus. The story was set in the Spanish Harlem (known by Puerto Ricans as El Barrio) and starred by Hume Cronyn, and Nancy Kelly. Other supporting actors were: Mario Alcalde, Frank Silvera and Enid Rudd. Puerto Rican actors like Miriam Colon (as cousin Maria Rodriguez) and Lucy Boscana played minor roles. The film title alluded to Puerto Rico as a crowded paradise that Puerto Ricans left for New York City. A Crowded Paradise had a very limited financial and commercial success. Afterward, the Migration Division produced a number of short films: Un amigo en Nueva York, Un amigo en Chicago, A Girl from Puerto Rico and other films geared to address issues affecting Puerto Ricans stateside. Despite efforts by the government of Puerto Rico to influence positively commercial media coverage about Puerto Ricans to all Americans, a stereotypical representation of the Puerto Rican community prevailed. It became particularly difficult to change after West Side Story (1961), which became among the most commercially successful Broadway musical shows and Hollywood films, and others imagined Puerto Ricans differently. This collection includes the original 33 mm and one inch video copy, photographs, script and other ephemeral materials donated by Gradus' son Nyles E. Gradus

Acquisition Type



Gift of Nyles E. Gradus

Language of Description


Script of Description


Restrictions Apply



  • 1956



0.12 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian

Metadata Rights Declarations

  • License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Creative Commons license.


1 Film 33 mm and one inch video copy, 2 correspondence, 3 photographs, 4 Promotional materials, 5 script, 6 ephemeral materials

About the Collections

Our collections consist of personal papers from prominent Puerto Rican artists, elected officials, social activists, writers, as well as the records of community-based organizations. Our largest collection, the Offices of the Government of Puerto Rico in the United States (OGPRUS) Records, measures approximately 2,900 cubic feet and contains an extraordinary amount of information regarding Puerto Rican migrants and the government institutions established to assist them. The collections date from the 1890s to the present, and document Puerto Rican communities in the Northeast, Midwest, Florida, California and Hawaii.