PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: SEPTEMBER 8
By David Gewirtzman
1914 A farce about selling soap called It Pays to Advertise, by Roi Cooper Megrue and Walter Hackett, opens at the Cohan Theatre. It stars Grant Mitchell and Ruth Shepley.
1925 Comedian Joe E. Brown toplines Captain Jinks a musical version of Clyde Fitch's hit comedy Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines. The show will run 167 performances.
1931 Jean Bart's melodrama The Man Who Reclaimed His Head opens on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre for a 28 performance run. Claude Rains, Stuart Casey and Jean Arthur star in the play about a brilliant but hideously deformed man who is driven to madness when he finds out his employer is having an affair with his wife.
1943 The wartime revue Laugh Time opens a 126-performance run today with an enviable cast featuring Ethel Waters, Bert Wheeler, Fay Wray and the dance team of Buck and Bubbles.
1953 Legendary flop musical Carnival in Flanders opens today. Despite a score by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, a book by Preston Sturges, and a famous leading man in the person of John Raitt, the show ekes out a 6-performance run. Notably, leading lady Dolores Gray will to on to win the 1954 Tony award for Best Actress in a Musical, the briefest run to be so honored.
1975 Jazz titans Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie make their Broadway debuts in The Concert at the Uris Theatre. The sold-out two week engagement features Sinatra and Fitzgerald singing against the backdrop of Basie's 18-man band (with 20 additional strings added for Sinatra's set).
1977 Zero Mostel, star of stage and screen, dies today. His most notable work included leading the original Broadway casts of Fiddler On The Roof and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To The Forum and starring in Mel Brooks' film, "The Producers."
1999 Off-Broadway's Century Theatre becomes The Exact Center of the Universe as Joan Vail Thorne's comedy moves to a commercial run tonight. The Southern-fried family comedy features Frances Sternhagen as a matron unsettled by her son's romance. John Tillinger directs the star and a cast that also features Reed Birney, Marge Redmond, Tracy Thorne and Sloane Shelton in the show, which runs 142 performances.
2004 British actress Fritha Goodey, 32, who had been scheduled to star with David Suchet in an upcoming Cambridge production of Terrence Rattigan's Man and Boy is found dead of stab wounds to the chest at her home in London.
2009 Jordan Roth, who joined Jujamcyn Theaters in 2005 as resident producer and became vice president the following year, succeeds Rocco Landesman as president of that company, which owns and operates five major Broadway houses.
2009 Army Archerd, who chronicled the projects and practitioners of show business for a half a century through his column in Variety, dies at age 87. Mr. Archerd — whose unusual first name was an abbreviation of Armand — wrote a 900-word column, titled "Just for Variety," from 1953 to 2005, and continued contributing to Daily Variety and writing a blog for Variety.com through July 2009.
Today's Birthdays: Howard Dietz 1896. Jean-Louis Barrault 1910. Sir Harry Secombe 1921. Sid Caesar 1922.
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