Playbill wishes happy 101st birthday to Patricia Morison, the actress who originated the role of Lili Vanessi in Kiss Me, Kate (1948), and who is also the eldest living actress to have played Mrs. Anna Leonowens in The King and I. She replaced Gertrude Lawrence in the original production, opposite Yul Brynner.
Although neither Morrison nor her costar Alfred Drake appeared in the film version of Kate, their performances were immortalized in a 1958 televised adaptation of the musical. The glamorous, big-eyed brunette with a glorious soprano introduced several famous songs in Cole Porter's masterpiece, including "Wunderbar," "So In Love" and "I Hate Men." Since the 1960s, she has lived in California and dedicates much of her time to painting. As evidenced by her video message to O'Hara, she still possesses a lyrical elegance and feisty personality befitting a Broadway legend.
Here, performing "I Hate Men" in the 1958 television adaptation of Kiss Me, Kate.
In a classic example of intergenerational Broadway solidarity, Morison sent a singing message of support to Kelli O'Hara on the occasion of her winning the 2015 Tony Award as Best Actress in a Musical in the current revival of The King and I.
In the video below, she shows a photo of herself in the role, then sings a snatch of "Shall We Dance" from the score, a cappella.
The video was posted by Scott Feinberg.