American Guild of Variety Artists

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.

Membership (US records)[2]

Finances (US records; ×$1000)[2]
     Assets      Liabilities      Receipts      Disbursements
American Guild of Variety Artists
Full nameAmerican Guild of Variety Artists
Founded1939 (1939)
Members2,624 (2014)[1]
AffiliationAAAA, AFL-CIO
Office locationNew York City, New York
CountryUnited States

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).[3]

In 1963 then-AGVA president Joey Adams helped to finance and organize a variety show in Birmingham, Alabama, to raise funds for the 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.[4]

When actress Penny Singleton (who had been active in supporting the 1967 strike of the AGVA-represented Rockettes against Radio City Music Hall[5]), was elected president of AGVA in 1969, she became the first woman to be president of an AFL-CIO union.[6] 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.

Its offices are in New York and Los Angeles.

Georgie Award

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:


  1. US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-147. Report submitted May 30, 2014.
  2. US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-147. (Search)
  3. "Sophie Spanked", TIME July 24, 1939
  4. Shull, Leo (1963-08-10). "Neither Heat, Bombs, Nor Birmingham Cops Shall Stop the Show—It Must Go On". Show Business. 23 (32). pp. 1, 10.
  5. "Accord is reached in Rockettes strike"; The New York Times, Oct. 13, 1967
  6. Singleton biography

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