Was 1964 Broadway's Greatest Year for Musicals? Dolly, Fiddler, Funny Girl and Other Groundbreakers

By Robert Viagas
15 May 2014

October 27: In his first Broadway musical after making an indelible impression in the show and film versions of The Music Man, Robert Preston chose to play the most mischievous of the founding fathers in Ben Franklin in Paris. People had impossibly high hopes for this musical, which wound up registering milder than it should have. The underwhelming score by Sidney Michaels and Mark Sandrich, Jr. nevertheless contained a few gems, including “I Invented Myself,” “To Be Alone With You” (credited to Jerry Herman) and “God Bless the Human Elbow.” During the run Preston pursued an affair with his co-star Ulla Sallert, the Swedish musical-comedy diva, which nearly sank his longtime marriage to Catherine Craig, but the marriage and various careers survived this near-miss production.