Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 2

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 2
Elaine Stritch in Company.
Elaine Stritch in Company. Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

1912 Birthday of composer Burton Lane (1912-1997), who writes the music for 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. The drama of the Mayo brothers and the woman they both love stars Richard Bennett, Robert Kelly, and Elsie Rizer. It wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

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

1925 Tony Award-winning performer Elaine Stritch is born today in Detroit. Her Broadway appearances include Sail Away, Company, Pal Joey, A Delicate Balance, and her Tony-winning solo show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty.

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

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 at age 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 debuts 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.

2006 The air inside Broadway's Biltmore Theatre is clouded with grief and uncertainty—elements emanating from David Lindsay-Abaire's Rabbit Hole. Cynthia Nixon and John Slattery star as parents grieving for the loss of their only child. Nixon wins a Tony Award for her performance, and the play wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

2014 Academy Award-winning stage and screen actor Philip Seymour Hoffman 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.

Watch highlights from Elaine Stritch's 2010 performance as Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music:

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