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

By Robert Viagas
15 May 2014

December 15: Buddy Hackett and Richard Kiley played small-time “psychologist” and con-man in I Had a Ball, a musical set among the Boardwalk attractions of Coney Island. Despite the setting, which seemed like a natural for a musical, and rave reviews for Luba Lisa in a supporting role, the show ran only six months. A cast album was recorded and developed a tiny cult following with songs like “Dr. Freud” and “The Fickle Finger of Fate.” While appearing in the show, Kiley was approached in his dressing room with an offer to play Don Quixote in a new musical called Man of La Mancha, setting the stage for a great 1965.

Robert Viagas is executive editor of PlaybillEDU.com, co-author of “At This Theatre” and editor of the “Playbill Broadway Yearbook” series.