Playbill Vault's Today In Theatre History: December 4

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today In Theatre History: December 4
A scene from <i>August: Osage County</i>.
A scene from August: Osage County. Michael Brosilow

1860 Birthday of Lillian Russell (1860-1922), who became the epitome of Gilded Age female sex appeal and stage presence starting in vaudeville at Tony Pastor's Theatre and graduating to a series of frothy musical comedy vehicles including Whirl-i-gig, Fiddle-dee-dee, Hoity-Toity, Twirly-Whirly, Whoop-Dee-Doo and Lady Teazle. She also appeared in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas and, later in life, in Burlesque.

1901 The Girl and the Judge both want what's best for the girl's kleptomaniac mother. Clyde Fitch wrote and staged this drama which stars Annie Russell.

1906 Douglas Fairbanks stars in The Man of the Hour by George Broadhurst. The plot — Fairbanks as a reformer out to expose corruption at City Hall — angers the Tammany Hall politicians and fans the interest of the public. It will run 479 performances.

1910 Composer Alex North, one of the many contributors to Of V We Sing, is born in Chester, Pennsylvania.

1934 What do you do when kidnappers move into your boarding house? Lucile Watson, star of Post Road has 209 performances to find out. This Wilbur Daniel Steele and Norma Mitchell comedy opens tonight at the Masque Theatre.

1986 Neil Simon's Broadway Bound opens at the Broadhurst tonight. It will go on to run 756 performances. The cast includes Linda Lavin, John Randolph, Phyllis Newman, and Jason Alexander. It is the third of Neil Simon's autobiographical plays, which include Biloxi Blues and Brighton Beach Memoirs.

1997 Linda Lavin, Harris Yulin, George Hearn, Sophie Hayden and Natalie Portman star in a James Lapine-directed revival of The Diary of Anne Frank, notable for its inclusion of personal material about Anne's budding sexuality and her strained relationship with her mother.

2003 The world premiere of the new Cy Coleman musical, Like Jazz, at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum, starring Lillias White, Patti Austin and Jennifer Holliday. It will prove to be his final major debut of a new musical before his death in November 2004.

2007 Broadway opening night for Tracy Letts' searing family drama August: Osage County which will go on to win the Tony Award as Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

2011 A revival of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, starring Dianne Wiest as Ranevskaya and John Turturro as Lopakhin, opens Off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company.

2012 The New York City premiere of Golden Age, Terrence McNally's play about the world of composer Vincenzo Bellini, opens Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club, with Lee Pace starring as the nervous 19th-century Sicilian composer whose opera I Puritani is receiving its Paris world premiere in 1835. The cast also includes F. Murray Abraham, Bebe Neuwirth and Will Rogers.

2015 Al Pacino returns to Broadway in David Mamet's China Doll, opening at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. The play follows a billionaire who is about to retire and marry a younger woman when his plans are shaken by a phone call.

More of Today's Birthdays: Derek Smith 1959. Marisa Tomei 1964.

Watch highlights from the 2012 Off-Broadway production of Terrence McNally's Golden Age:

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