The New York Yankees just won their fourth World Series title over the Chicago Cubs. Bruno Richard Hauptmann was recently implicated in the kidnapping and death of Charles Lindbergh's baby. This year's Oscar went to the film version of William A. Drake's play A Grand Hotel starring Greta Garbo and John and Lionel Barrymore. New York gets a new venue called Radio City Music Hall and Duke Ellington pens "It Don't Mean a Thing, If It Ain't Got That Swing." The year is 1932.
On Broadway, George and Ira Gershwin's Of Thee I Sing becomes the first musical to earn the Pulitzer Prize Award for Drama while their new work Pardon My English prepares for Broadway. Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne also ready the new Noël Coward comedy Design for Living while Fred Astaire sings "Night and Day" and dances in Cole Porter's Gay Divorce.
The title page in the Twentieth Century Playbill.
Eugenie Leontovich and Moffat Johnston's bios.
Shows also "On the boards" of Broadway in 1932.
The Playbill "Who Was Who" feature.
Press agent Richard Maney, who long represented Harris, and knew Hecht and MacArthur, said in his autobiography that the role of Jaffe did indeed ape Harris, but also drew on the characters of producers Morris Gest and David Belasco. Interestingly, it was Harris who first commissioned Hecht and MacArthur to write the comedy.
The comedy would later make the leap to the big screen as the 1934 film — a popular yardstick for success in the pre-Tony Awards period — starring John Barrymore as the Broadway producer Oscar Jaffe and Carole Lombard as his former protégé-turned Hollywood starlet. The play, revived on Broadway in 1950 starring José Ferrer and Gloria Swanson, would also serve as the basis for the 1978 Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Cy Coleman musical starring John Cullum and Madeline Kahn. Younger performers in that cast included Kevin Kline, Craig Lucas and Judy Kaye.