Delta Kappa Alpha Founding
Delta Kappa Alpha was first organized in 1935 as a Professional Cinematography Fraternity for men. Receiving its National Charter, the Fraternity was founded on March 16, 1936, in Bridge Hall of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California.
The ten honored founding members:
The ten men agreed on the name Delta Kappa Alpha because it was the reverse of the initials of the leading Founder and first President, Allen K. Dallas, they determined that each letter will stand for a basic art of the Cinema – Dramatic (Delta), Kinematic (Kappa), and Aesthetic (Alpha).
Two years later, in March, 1938, they established the National Board of Officers, with Jack McClelland serving as the first National President.
Delta Kappa Alpha expanded in 1949 when a Beta Chapter formed at Boston University. Additional chapters were established at Gamma Chapter at NYU in 1950, and Delta Chapter at UCLA in 1953. By 1979, all of the chapters deactivated because the National Fraternity lacked an Executive Office, keeping it from surviving the anti-establishment period that shut down chapters and Greek organizations across the country. Former National President and National Secretary Herbert E. Farmer protected the Fraternity’s History through his well-preserved Archive. This made it possible for the Fraternity to be resurrected at the University of Southern California in 2009 by Grace Lee and Hillary Levi. Now the Fraternity thrives with its overhauled and improved national structure, passionate membership, and close-knit alumni.
DELTA KAPPA ALPHA BANQUETS
Delta Kappa Alpha quickly became a powerful name in the entertainment industry with its annual Banquets. These banquets were for the purposes of inducting pledge members into active members and inducting Cinema icons with honorary membership before a hall of industry professionals and journalists. These Banquets became so renowned that they were considered one of the years top three most distinguished and celebrated events in Hollywood ““ the Academy Awards ranking as number one. They took place at University of Southern California’s Town & Gown Banquet Hall.
Tables were purchased for the attendance of executives from renowned organizations like The Writer’s Guild of America, Director’s Guild of America, Producer’s Guild of America, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, MGM, Paramount, Disney, and others. The DKA banquets were an incredible spectacle that would attract not only Hollywood’s elite but the attention of the media with such industry publications as Variety and Hollywood Reporter.
“Never in all my born days has this writer seen so many movie, TV and theatrical luminaries”¦at least 400 of the 500 that were famous in Hollywood”
-Los Angeles Herald-Examiner February 9, 1972
Timeline of Delta Kappa Alpha Banquets
January 6, 1963
Honoring Mary Pickford, Harold Lloyd
Mistress of Ceremonies: Gloria Swanson (Stepped in for Bette Davis who had bronchitis)
Special Guests: Steve Allen, Delmer Daves, Jack Lemmon, Adolph Zukor, George Cukor, Arthur Knight
Note: The first Banquet, The “Silver Anniversary Banquet,” celebrated 25 years of Delta Kappa Alpha’s existence. 650 people gathered to honor them including head executives from all the major Hollywood studios.
February 9, 1964
Honoring Gloria Swanson, Charles Brackett, Jack Lemmon, Billy Wilder, Adolph Zukor
Master of Ceremonies: Dick Van Dyke
February 7, 1965
Honoring Rosalind Russel, Norman Taurog, Robert Wise
Master of Ceremonies: Gene Kelly
January 30, 1966
Honoring Lucille Ball, Gregory Peck, Hal Wallis
Film Pioneer Award to Frances Marion and Sol Lesser
Master of Ceremonies: Bob Crane
January 15, 1967
Honoring Irene Dunne, Frank Capra, Jack Oakie, William Wyler
Master of Ceremonies: Carl Reiner
Guests: President of The Academy Wendell Corey, President of Screen Actor’s Guild George Chandler, Representative of Writer’s Guild James Webb, Representative of Producer’s Guild Arthur Freed, Representative of A.S.C. Arthur Miller
February 11, 1968
Honoring Mervyn Leroy, James Stewart, Mae West
Master of Ceremonies: Norman Corwin
February 9, 1969
Honoring Greer Garson, Ross Hunter, Steve McQueen
Master of Ceremonies: Jerry Lewis
March 8, 1970
Honoring Julie Andrews, Norman Jewison
Master of Ceremonies: Bill Dana
February 5, 1972
Honoring Edith Head, Alfred Hitchcock, Walter Matthau, Sidney P. Solow
Master of Ceremonies: Steve Allen
March 3, 1974
Honoring William Castle, John Green, Barbara Stanwyck
Film Pioneer Award to Lawrence Weingarten
Master of Ceremonies: Norman Corwin
November 16, 1975
Honoring Fred Astaire, Stanley Donen
Mistress of Ceremonies: Shirley Jones
Guests: John Hubbard, Samuel Goldwyn, Jr., Ernest Lehman, Mary E. Cummings, Sybil Brand
June 13, 1976
Honoring Lyle Wheeler, Glenn Ford, Delmer Daves
Film Pioneer Award to Hal Roach
April 9, 1978
Honoring Ron Miller, Chris Miller
Film Pioneer Award to 10 Disney Animators, proxy acceptances: Florence Lounsbery for John Lounsbery, Marc Davis for Milt Kahl
Master of Ceremonies: Arthur Knight
Speakers: Ray Bradbury, Mel Shaw, Jodie Foster, Peggy Lee, Ward Kimball, Clarence “Donald Duck” Nash
November 12, 1978
Honoring Neil Simon
Master of Ceremonies: Mort Zarcoff
Speaker: Charles Champlin, LA Times Critic
THE REBIRTH OF DELTA KAPPA ALPHA
In 2008, Hillary Levi, Southern California, Alpha Chapter, 2009, was searching the internet for film-related student organizations and stumbled upon an article about a cinema fraternity banquet. She met Grace Lee, Southern California, Alpha Chapter, 2009, and they both bonded over the observation that cinema students were competing against each other instead of collaborating and actually being productive together, which seemed like a tragic waste of energy. Shortly after, they registered Delta Kappa Alpha with the University of Southern California and it was reborn.
For the next three years, pieces of the Fraternity’s history started trickling in and the organization began looking more as it used to. In 2012, with the assistance of the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity, Delta Kappa Alpha drafted and passed a full Constitution that organized the National Organization into multiple corporations and allowed there to be unity between chapters, expansion to new campuses, structure for alumni participation and leadership, and the ability for all aspects of the Fraternity to not only survive, but to grow beyond the prominence they once had during the Golden Age of Hollywood. The current Fraternity members learned about the organizations past and revived its prestigious traditions. With the help of Phi Kappa Tau and other Greek Organizations and Consultants, the organization rebranded itself to be more than just a great idea, but to be a thriving fraternity built by and for cinematic artists of character.
A LOOK TO THE FUTURE
Our structure is solid, we have pride in our identity, and every member has the tools to push Delta Kappa Alpha further than it has ever been before. As the Fraternity spreads to more campuses and our family grows larger and stronger, we find ourselves in the most exciting stage of development ““ full of possibilities and potential.
Residents can become leaders at their chapters, Graduates can become leaders in their communities and industries, and all members have unrestricted opportunities to support their past, present, and future brothers and sisters from all chapters.
“The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.”
““ Felix Adler
HERBERT E. FARMER, THE WIZARD OF DELTA KAPPA ALPHA
By Dino Everett, Southern California, Alpha Chapter, 2012.
When Herb Farmer first arrived at USC in the fall of 1938, both the cinema program and DKA were still in their infancy. This allowed Farmer to become present and active in the overall shaping of both. As a member of DKA Farmer took on many roles from President to Secretary, but his most important was that of archivist and historian. Thanks to his efforts in preserving the past history of DKA, those involved today will be able to create its future.
Farmer began classes at USC in the fall of 1938. He double majored in physics and cinema while also finding time to produce the Trojan Newsreel, shoot football coaching films and surgical motion pictures for the university and play sousaphone in the marching band and of course be very active in DKA. He acquired and installed the very first 35mm projectors on campus and by 1940, along with his friends Dan Wiegand and Dave Johnson, had installed a full film laboratory. In 1942, Farmer was actually put in charge as acting head of the Department of Cinematography and took over teaching a motion picture history class from Warren Scott, who had been called to active duty in World War II. Farmer himself was called to service in 1943 where he served in the Navy Motion Picture School but returned to USC after the war in 1946 and began teaching classes in basic film technology and distribution.
Farmer remained at USC for 71 years, and those who interacted with him over the years learned many valuable lessons, that DKA members can continue to use as worthwhile in present times.
- Selflessness & Loyalty. Perhaps no one in any University has remained as loyal as Herb Farmer was to USC. Because of this, USC and decades worth of students have benefited in many ways from the jobs he did over the years, including his preservation of its history. But even Herb Farmer benefited because he always had a family and an unparalleled support system with USC, and DKA. With Farmer here USC knew that anything was possible, and Farmer knew that the only reason it was possible was because of the people that surrounded him for all of those years.
- Constant Learning & Adaptability. One of the last things that Herb Farmer said when he was in his late 80’s and was at the unveiling of the new USC cinema complex was. “I wish I could go to school again.” He always knew that the field of cinema was one based on continuous change, and that to do one’s best you must have equal respect for the past as you do for the future, which means never feeling like you have it all figured out. If you stay hungry for knowledge you will maintain the keys for success.
- “Do-It-Yourself” Inventiveness & Problem-Solving. Whenever times got hard at USC, and it looked like the program might not have the funds to grow, or accommodate the students, Herb Farmer always found a way to get what was needed. He became known by students as the person to speak to if you needed something extraordinary to happen. If a project looks to be in jeopardy because funding is running low, do not be afraid to create the solution with the same ingenuity used to create your movies.