Irving, who earned his Actors' Equity card in 1941, will be serenaded by old pal, Dody Goodman, who was a fellow player in Call Me Mister in 1946, plus KT Sullivan, Julia Murney, Mary Stout, David Edwards, Jana Robbins, Ed Dixon, Rita Harvey and others. The celebration of Irving's work will be held at the mainstage of the E. 14th Street YMHA, the home of the piano-and-voice Musicals Tonight! series.
Irving is considered to be an American character-acting treasure. His work extends beyond his turns in Broadway's Irene in 1973 (for which he won the Tony Award), Me and My Girl (1986), On Your Toes (1983) and Tovarich (1963), Irma La Douce (1960) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). To generations of children, Irving is known as the voice of Heat Miser in the holiday TV special, "The Year Without a Santa Claus." He also did voiceover work for the cartoons "Underdog" and "Tennessee Tuxedo."
Irving also appeared in the original Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! and Me and Juliet and in Richard Rodgers' late-career musical, I Remember Mama. Irving was born in Springfield, MA. His wife, Maria Karnilova, the respected Broadway actress, died in 2001.
Thomas Mills, the resident director of Musicals Tonight!, will stage the tribute to Irving. Barbara Anselmi is musical director. Dina Merrill and Kitty Carlise Hart will attend the $100-per-person benefit at 7:30 PM May 19.
The 14th Street YMHA is at 344 E. 14th Street. For reservations, call (212) 362-5620.