Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 10

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: August 10
Antonio Banderas in Nine.
Antonio Banderas in Nine. Joan Marcus

1911 Birthday of playwright Jerome Chodorov, who writes the play My Sister Eileen, which he later adapts with Leonard Bernstein, Joseph A. Fields, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green into the Tony Award-winning musical Wonderful Town. Other works include the plays Anniversary Waltz and Junior Miss, and the books to the musicals The Girl in Pink Tights and I Had a Ball.

1920 Actor James O'Neill, father of playwright Eugene, dies at age 72. The elder O'Neill is best known for his lengthy stay with the touring production, The Count of Monte Cristo.

1942 When Paul Robeson opens in the title role of Othello at the Brattle Hall Summer Theatre in Massachusetts, he becomes the first African-American actor to play the Moor in an interracial production in the United States. His performance receives rave reviews.

1983 Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy, who had recently been auditioning for the role of Uncle Ben in a Broadway revival of Death of A Salesman, does not get the part. A spokesperson for the production soon makes a statement saying, "It had to do with ability and talent. It had nothing to do with politics."

1986 The British invasion that started with Evita continues tonight as Me and My Girl "Lambeth Walk"s into the new Marquis Theatre in the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Broadway. Featured in the Mike Ockrent-directed reworking of the 1937 Noel Gay-L. Arthur Rose-Douglas Furber musical are Robert Lindsay, Maryann Plunkett, George S. Irving, and Jane Connell. Me and My Girl wins Tony Awards for its two leading players (Lindsay and Plunkett), but loses the Best Musical award to another British import, Les Misérables. There are 1,420 performances on Broadway.

1999 Dylan Baker plays the title character in The Public Theater's production of the Molière classic Tartuffe as it begins its reign at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park for a run through September 5. Tartuffe, about a venal and libidinous religious hypocrite who holds a household under his thrall until he is exposed, stars a company that includes Wendell Pierce, J. Smith-Cameron, Dana Ivey, Charles Kimbrough, and Mary Testa. Mark Brokaw directs the production.

2001 Debbie Does Dallas, a stage musical based the pornographic film of the same title, debuts at the New York International Fringe Festival. Positive reviews lead to a full-scale Off-Broadway production the following year, starring Sherie Rene Scott.

2004 Film icon Mickey Rooney returns to the stage at 83 in an Off-Broadway revue titled Let's Put on a Show! The Tony Award nominee (for Sugar Babies) is best known for his puckish film performances in the many Andy Hardy movies and such pictures as Babes in Arms and Babes on Broadway.

2010 Academy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg, who starred in the hit 1992 film Sister Act, begins a limited run as Mother Superior in the London musical of the same title at the Palladium Theatre.

2013 Eydie Gorme, a popular singer of the '50s and '60s in the wholesome, All-American vein, who became known the world over as half of the duo Steve and Eydie when she married Steve Lawrence, dies at age 84. She won a Grammy Award for her version of "If He Walked Into My Life," from Mame, and made a single appearance on Broadway in the musical Golden Rainbow.

More of Today's Birthdays: Jack Haley 1898. Eddie Fisher 1928. Antonio Banderas 1960.

Watch highlights from the 2011 Broadway production of Sister Act:

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