Playbill Vault's Today In Theatre History: February 2

News   Playbill Vault's Today In Theatre History: February 2 1912 Birthday of composer Burton Lane (1912-1997), who will go on to write On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Hold on to Your Hats, Laffing Room Only and his great hit, Finian's Rainbow.

1920 Eugene O'Neill's first full-length drama, Beyond the Horizon, opens at the Morosco Theatre. This drama of the Mayo brothers and the woman they both love stars Richard Bennett, Robert Kelly, and Elsie Rizer. It will go on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

1923 Broadway columnist Liz Smith is born in Ft. Worth, Texas.

1925 Tony-winning performer Elaine Stritch is born today in Detroit. She'll star in Sail Away, Company, Pal Joey and her solo show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty.

1926 James Rennie is The Great Gatsby at the Ambassador Theatre. Also starring Florence Eldridge and Elliot Cabot, this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel by Owen Davis will run 14 weeks. George Cukor provides the direction.

1927 Opening night of Florenz Ziegfeld's first non-revue musical, Rio Rita, by Guy Bolton and Fred Thompson. It's the inaugural production at the new Ziegfeld Theatre, and runs 494 performances. 1966 Opening night of Frederick Knott's murder mystery Wait Until Dark, about a blind woman stalked by a killer. It runs 374 performances and becomes a staple in stock.

1969 Boris Karloff, who came to life on film as Frankenstein's monster, dies today at 82 in Sussex, England. He made his first stage appearance in 1910. In 1941 he appeared in the comedy Arsenic and Old Lace at the Fulton Theatre in New York.

1972 Diana Rigg and Michael Hordern are Jumpers. Tom Stoppard's farce of word-play and mystification plays at London's Old Vic Theatre. The play will debut on Broadway two years later.

2004 Jason Raize Rothenberg, who created the role of Simba in Broadway's The Lion King, is found dead today of an apparent suicide at age 28, in Yass, Australia.

2014 Philip Seymour Hoffman, the Academy Award-winning stage and screen actor who brought his own unique presence and deep-delving intelligence to his every role, is found dead in his Manhattan apartment. He starred in three Broadway productions, earning Tony nominations for all three performances: Austin/Lee in True West, James Tyrone, Jr. in Long Day's Journey Into Night and Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. Hoffman also appeared in and directed numerous Off-Broadway productions, including many at the LAByrinth Theater Company where he was co-artistic director.

More of Today's Birthdays: James Joyce 1882. Ayn Rand 1905. Stefan Schnabel 1912. Brent Spiner 1949. Cady Huffman 1965. Jennifer Westfeldt 1971. Marissa Jaret Winokur 1973.