By David Gewirtzman
and Robert Viagas, Sam Maher and Steve Luber
04 Nov 2013
1879 Birthday of William Penn Adair Rogers (1879-1935), better known as rope-twirling comic philosopher Will Rogers, star of the Ziegfeld Follies and other Broadway shows, and, later, movies. He will be the subject of the 1991 musical, The Will Rogers Follies.
1905 Eddie Foy stars as dog trainer Jim Cheese in the Broadway premiere of the British musical The Earl and the Girl, which opens tonight and runs 148 performances at the Casino Theatre. Jerome Kern gets one of his earliest Broadway assignments writing the interpolated song, "How'd You Like To Spoon With Me?," which was staged with chorus girls issuing the invitation while swinging over the front of the audience in flower-bedecked swings.
1914 After the exposed flesh in The Passing Show of 1914 disturbs Boston mayor Curley, the city's "Purity Squad" threatens producers who allow bare legs in their shows. They agree to have their chorines wear tights and "knee panties."
1937 Luther Adler stars as a conflicted boxer in Clifford Odets' drama Golden Boy, which opens at the Belasco Theatre today under the auspices of the Group Theatre, and goes on to run 250 performances. It will be made into a musical with Sammy Davis, Jr. in the 1960s.
1954 Future legend David Merrick makes his debut as a Broadway producer today with the Harold Rome musical Fanny at the Majestic Theatre, starring Walter Slezak (Tony Award), Ezio Pinza and Florence Henderson. Based on Marcel Pagnol's stories of romance on the waterfront in old Marseilles, it will run 888 performances.
1959 Although reports had come in recently stating that the new Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe musical was going to be called Jenny Kiss'd Me, the new title is announced today in Variety. It is Camelot, which will open on December 3, 1960.
1981 The original cast of the Manhattan Theatre Club workshop production of Crimes of the Heart are the stars in the Broadway production, which opens tonight at the John Golden Theatre. This Beth Henley play has already won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and would run on Broadway for 535 performances.
1990 Buddy opens at the Shubert Theatre tonight. The cast, led by Paul Hipp as Buddy Holly, was under the direction of Rob Bettinson. The show concerns the life of the late rock 'n' roll legend and features Holly's music in the score. Though A Chorus Line was hurried to its closing the previous spring to make way for this London hit, Buddy will run on Broadway for only 225 performances.
1990 The woman whose grandchildren introduced her as "Peter Pan," Mary Martin, died today. Martin, who was known for her exuberant voice and high-spirited demeanor, will always be remembered for Peter Pan, South Pacific and her portrayal of Maria in the original stage version of The Sound of Music.
2010 The bustling excitement of Madrid in the late 1980s comes to life at the Belasco Theatre in the world-premiere musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, starring Sherie Rene Scott, Patti LuPone and Laura Benanti. Written by David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane, the musical is based on Pedro Almodovar's Oscar-nominated 1988 film.
2012 Louis Botto, the dapper "At This Theatre" columnist, writer and editor for Playbill for more than 40 years, dies at age 88. In addition to writing for Playbill from 1971 until his retirement in September 2012, Botto also wrote the book "At This Theatre" based on his popular columns, wrote for Look magazine, and contributed a sketch to the Broadway revue New Faces of 1956.
More of Today's Birthdays: Gaby Deslys 1881. Virginia Field 1917. Art Carney 1918. Martin Balsam 1919. Doris Roberts 1930. Loretta Swit 1937. John Vickery 1950. Jon Robin Baitz 1961. Daisy Eagan 1979.