PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: FEBRUARY 15

By Robert Viagas
and Ernio Hernandez and anne Bradley
15 Feb 2014

1905 Birthday of composer Harold Arlen (1905-1986) a cantor's son who cut his musical teeth in 1920s Harlem, and went on to write music for Broadway shows, Star and Garter, Jamaica, House of Flowers and Saratoga as well as for the MGM film musical "The Wizard of Oz".



1923 Gerald Du Maurier and Tallulah Bankhead are featured in The Dancers at Wyndham's Theatre in London. Hubert Parson penned this romance of a dancehall proprietor who inherits a title and fortune but never forgets his true love. It surefoots it for 346 performances.

1933 One Sunday Afternoon stars Lloyd Nolan and Francesca Bruning as plain people struggling through hard times. James Hagan's drama will run first at the Little Theatre, and then at the 48th St Theatre, for a total of 322 performances.

1939 Lillian Hellman forages the old South and comes up with The Little Foxes. Tallulah Bankhead leads the cast in this drama that will run for 410 performances at the National Theatre in New York.

1950 Before TV's "Hazel" typecast her as a frumpy maid, Shirley Booth won a Tony for starring in William Inge's drama, Come Back, Little Sheba. Co-star Sidney Blackmer would also take home a Tony for this Theatre Guild production. Best Play, however, went to T.S. Eliot's The Cocktail Party.

1984 Stage legend Ethel Merman, Broadway's original Rose in Gypsy dies in her hometown New York City at 76. The actress' other memorable works include Anything Goes, Red, Hot and Blue!, Something for the Boys, Call Me Madam and Annie Get Your Gun.

1998 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS presents its first annual "Broadway Bears" event. The fundraiser auctions off little stuffed bears designed to look like famous performers in theatre roles. Among the first ursines are a Barbra Streisand Funny Girl bear, a Carol Burnett Once Upon a Mattress bear, a Ben Vereen Pippin bear, and a Julie Andrews Victor/Victoria bear.

2007 Daniel McDonald, the dashing young star of the Broadway musicals Steel Pier and High Society, dies of brain cancer at age 46.

More of Today's Birthdays: Walter Donaldson 1893. Cesar Romero 1907. Kevin McCarthy 1914. Keene Curtis 1923. Claire Bloom 1931. Jane Seymour 1951.