LEATHEM, BARCLAY SPENCER (10 Mar. 1900-2 Feb. 1981) was an educator at CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY who formed CWRU's Department of Drama and Theater, secured a Rockefeller Foundation Grant to build its Eldred Theater, and promoted working relationships between CWRU, the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE, and KARAMU HOUSE Theater.
Barclay was born in Philadelphia, PA. to Thomas and Matilda (Smith) Leathem. Following Army service in World War I, he received his A.B. from Pennsylvania State University (1922), his LL.B. from WRU (1924), and attended the Academy of Music & Dramatic Art, and the University of Vienna, Austria (1929-30).
Leathem joined CWRU's English Department as a teaching assistant in 1921. He rose to Instructor in 1924, Assistant Professor in 1927, Associate Professor in 1931, and Professor in 1942. Leathem helped form the Department of Speech in 1927 and the Department of Drama & Theater in 1931. He served as the Department's first chair until 1970 and retired from teaching in 1971; the first CWRU faculty member to serve 50 years.
Leathem established working relationships with the Cleveland Play House and Karamu that provided students practical experience in working with actors and technicians in professional productions. His pioneering campus productions introduced students and local audiences to Nobel Prize-winning playwrights . Through Leathem's foresight CWRU offered one of the country's first TV courses.
Leathem served as a consultant to television station WEWS, Channel 5, during its start-up. He directed the first dramas produced on Cleveland TV, and conducted an interview show for 15 years. Leathem also directed the CITY CLUB'S Anvil Revues.
Barclay married Ruth Elton on 13 June 1922. They had a daughter, Patricia. Leathem is buried in Hillcrest Cemetery.