1864 Edwin Booth opens a four-month stand in Hamlet at the old Winter Garden Theatre.
1900 Sarah Bernhardt and Benoit Constant Coquelin open a five-week engagement, in French, at the Garden Theatre in New York. Bernhardt plays Camille, Tosca, Roxanne, and, in a burst of early non-traditional casting, two "breeches" roles, Hamlet and L'Aiglon (Napoleon).
1909 Eugene Ionesco is born in Slatina, Romania. Ionesco is remembered for his founding of the Theatre of the Absurd, a school of thought which abolishes realistic and psychological theatre. Rhinoceros and The Chairs are just two of his plays that break new ground.
1911 At London's Savoy Theatre, there is a special performance by the Pioneer Players of Laurence Houseman's Pains and Penalties: The Defence of Queen Caroline. It had been banned because it dealt with royalty in an unflattering way.
1930 Rex Harrison makes his London debut as the Hon. Fred Thrippleton in Florence Kilpatrick's Getting George Married at the Everyman Theatre.
1935 Jane Cowl is the First Lady at New York's Music Box Theatre. This comedy is directed by George S. Kaufman, co-writer with Katharine Dayton. The play deals with an influential Washington lady, modeled after Alice Roosevelt Longworth.
1940 Ethel Barrymore plays Miss Moffat in Emlyn Williams' play The Corn Is Green, about a teacher who changes the life of a small Welsh village. It opens at the National Theatre and runs 477 performances.
1999 Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Terry Johnson's Hysteria, a comedy about Sigmund Freud's last days in a quiet London suburb, begins performances in Chicago. The play recently got a new lead: replacing Steppenwolf ensemble member Alan Wilder in the role of the father of psychoanalysis is Yasen Peyankov. Wilder withdrew "for personal reasons." John Malkovich, probably Steppenwolf's most famous member, directs the production. Malkovich, well known to film audiences, rarely takes the stage at Steppenwolf, or elsewhere, anymore, preferring to work behind the scenes.
2002 Off-Broadway's new Little Shubert Theatre on West 42nd Street is inaugurated with the concert show, Tommy Tune: White Tie and Tails, in which the long-legged dancer/choreographer/director chats with the audience, and performs some of his favorite pop and movie songs, with the help of the Manhattan Rhythm Kings. The Little Shubert is opened by the Shubert Organization as a viable intimate Off-Broadway venue unto itself, but also a testing ground for possible future Broadway works.
2012 Marty Richards, a stage and film producer who was among the backers of the Academy Award-winning 2002 film of the musical Chicago, and whose Broadway credits included Sweeney Todd, Crimes of the Heart, and La Cage aux Folles, dies at age 80.
2016 Fritz Weaver, the sharp-featured, Tony-winning actor best remembered on Broadway for his performance as Victorian sleuth Sherlock Holmes in the 1965 musical Baker Street, dies at age 90. Weaver won the 1970 Tony Award as Best Actor in a Play for his performance as a rigid private-school disciplinarian in the drama Child‘s Play.
More of Today's Birthdays: Emlyn Williams (1905-1987). Stanley Lebowsky (1926-1986). Robert Goulet (1933-2007). Marian Mercer (1935-2011). Tina Turner (b. 1939). Tandy Cronyn (b. 1945). Daniel Davis (b. 1945). Christopher Fitzgerald (b. 1972).