1999 marks the 40th Anniversary for Chicago's famed comedy/improv theatre troupe, Second City. The official anniversary will take place Dec. 16, with festivities to be announced.
Established in 1959 as a 150-seat cabaret in a converted Chinese laundry, the company has blossomed into its current three Equity theatres (in Chicago, Toronto, and Detroit) with a new Second City to open in Cleveland. Second City also boasts five touring companies and a training program which educates some 3,000 students.
In 1973, The Second City opened its second home in Toronto, led by such early alumni as Gilda Radner and Dan Aykroyd. The Toronto Second City led to the development of the skit-comedy series, "SCTV," and such memorable characters as Bob and Doug MacKenzie (played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas), and Martin Short's Ed Grimley.
Among the actors, writers and directors who began their careers at Second City and its predecessor, The Compass Players, are Alan Alda, Ed Asner, Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Shelley Berman, John Candy, Chris Farley, Mary Gross, Valerie Harper, Bonnie Hunt, Henry Jaglom, Robert Klein, Linda Lavin, Eugene Levy, Shelley Long, Andrea Martin, Paul Mazursky, Elaine May, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Mike Nichols, Harold Ramis, Joan Rivers, Paul Sand, Martin Short, Paul Sills, Ryan Stiles, Betty Thomas, George Wendt, Gilda Radner, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.
The 40th Anniversary celebration officially began March 6 in Aspen, when the cast of SCTV -- Martin Short, Andrea Martin, Harold Ramis, Catherine O'Hara, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, Joe Flaherty and Eugene Levy -- reunited. -- By Sean McGrath