PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: JULY 29

By David Gewirtzman
and Ernio Hernandez and Robert Viagas
29 Jul 2014

1981 An ad in Variety today accuses theatre critic John Simon of being "racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist, vicious, and derisive." Included in the ad/protest are excerpts from Simon's review of Richard III. Simon is quoted as writing in this review that an actress in the show "should never be cast as anything but an itinerant gefilte fish with a nervous condition." Three hundred artists, etc. have signed the protest, but none are prominent in the theatre industry at that time and, as the ad explains, many people wished to remain anonymous.



1983 Raymond Massey dies today at age 86. Massey, a well-respected stage actor, scored his biggest success as the title character in Robert Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Abe Lincoln in Illinois. Massey, hailed at the time by critic Brooks Atkinson as performing "with an artless honesty that is completely overwhelming at the end," also appeared in the classic 1940 film version.

1998 Legendary director/choreographer Jerome Robbins dies today at age 79. His Broadway projects included the original productions of West Side Story, Peter Pan, Fiddler on the Roof, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The King and I, On the Town, Gypsy and many more.

2000 Off-Off-Broadway reverses the Elizabethan tradition of casting all men including in females roles as the Queen's Company mounts an all-female Macbeth. The infamous Scottish Play will run its limited engagement at the Mint Space in midtown Manhattan.

2003 Luther Henderson, the musical director, arranger, orchestrator and composer who helped give the distinctive sound to such musicals as Funny Girl, Ain't Misbehavin', Play On! and Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, dies after a long battle with cancer.

2004 Ghosts of the McCarthy era and playwright Arthur Miller’s doomed marriage to movie star Marilyn Monroe haunt a major revival of Miller’s After The Fall at Roundabout Theatre Company. Peter Krause, Carla Gugino and Jessica Hecht star in the production, directed by Michael Mayer who wove together the best from various versions of Miller’s script. Miller accepts a standing ovation on the stage of the American Airlines Theatre opening night. It turns out to be Miller’s final Broadway curtain call, as he passes away less than five months later.

2008 Luther Davis, a prolific writer who forged careers in film, television and theatre, and who won a Tony Award for his book to the musical Kismet, dies at age 91.

Today's Birthdays: Booth Tarkington 1869. Maria Ouspenskaya 1876. Theda Bara 1885. Sigmund Romberg 1887. Peter Howard 1927. Robert LuPone 1946.