The Daily Distraction: Watch the First Musical Theatre Performance to Ever Win a Tony

Video   The Daily Distraction: Watch the First Musical Theatre Performance to Ever Win a Tony
 
Though the annual awards were not broadcast on national television until 1967, David Wayne reprised his Tony-winning Finian's Rainbow performance at the 25th annual ceremony.

These are frightening times, and we all must take necessary precautions as we social distance and self-isolate. That being said, you deserve a break every now and then. Welcome to Playbill's Daily Distraction.

Day 21: Og, the OG Tony Winner

This year's Tony Awards are currently on hold, but the show will go on—eventually—and until then, we at least have a library of old broadcasts to quell our quarantine blues.

The very first Tony Awards ceremony took place on this day in 1947, bestowing not medallions but compact cases, money clips, and cigarette lighters (it...was a different time?) to the likes of Ingrid Bergman, Helen Hayes, Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, Kurt Weill, and Agnes de Mille. Also among the winners was David Wayne for his performance as Og in Finian's Rainbow, making him the first performer to win a Tony for a musical (back then, the categories weren't broken up by Play or Musical, nor did the categories have announced nominees).

The Tonys weren't broadcast on national television for another couple decades, but for the 25th anniversary ceremony in 1971, they paid homage to the past quarter-century of musicals with performances interspersed throughout the evening. Among the highlights were Gwen Verdon performing "Whatever Lola Wants" from Damn Yankees, Vivian Blaine returning to Guys and Dolls' "Adelaide's Lament," Florence Henderson offering a thrilling rendition of the title song from The Sound of Music (with a modulation and an option up!), and Wayne, donning his leprechaun gear once more to sing "When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love."

Check out his return to the Tonys in the clip above.

The 1971 ceremony is also a special one for us, with Playbill receiving an honorary Tony for "chronicling Broadway through the years"—an objective we will continue to champion even when the curtain's down.

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