Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 21

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: June 21
Judy Holliday in Bells Are Ringing.
Judy Holliday in Bells Are Ringing. Friedman-Abeles / The New York Public Library

1903 Caricaturist Al Hirschfeld (1903-2003) is born in St. Louis, Missouri. His distinctive looping line drawings captures the essence of Broadway shows from the 1920s through the early 2000s. The Martin Beck Theatre is renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in 2003, just months after his death at age 99.

1921 Future stage and screen star Judy Holliday is born in New York City. By the time of her untimely death in 1965, Holliday had won the 1951 Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Born Yesterday, a role she had already done on Broadway. She also won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in Bells Are Ringing.

1937 Laurence Housman's Broadway smash Victoria Regina opens at London's Lyric Theatre. The historical drama, which proved to be a personal triumph for star Helen Hayes on Broadway, stars Pamela Stanely as the 19th-century British Queen. The show runs 42 weeks.

1951 Audience members are taken back to Indianapolis circa 1907 as Seventeen opens at Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre. Based on the novel by Booth Tarkington, the new musical features a book by Sally Benson. Singing the Walter Kent-Kim Gannon score are leads Ann Crowley and Kenneth Nelson. The show runs 23 weeks.

1984 David Rabe's play Hurlyburly opens Off-Broadway at the Promenade Theatre. The original cast from Chicago's Goodman Theatre stays intact, including William Hurt, Harvey Keitel, Christopher Walken, Jerry Stiller, Cynthia Nixon, Sigourney Weaver, and Judith Ivey. The play runs 45 performances before transferring to Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

1992 It is Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber now, as the famed musical theatre composer is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Sir Andrew's many musical credits include Broadway's longest-running musical, The Phantom of the Opera, and the international phenomenon, Cats. He is later elevated to the peerage as Lord Lloyd Webber.

2000 Josh Brolin and Elias Koteas replace Tony-nominated stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly in Sam Shepard's True West on Broadway. The drama, in which two brothers change personalities, made for an interesting twist as the two actors would switch lead roles every few performances. The replacement players follow in the same fashion until the Matthew Warchus directed show closes July 29.

2003 George Axelrod, the playwright, director, and screenwriter who penned the stage comedy, The Seven Year Itch, about a Manhattan man who lusts after his comely neighbor while his family is away for the summer, dies at age 81. Axelrod also penned the Broadway plays Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1955) and Goodbye, Charlie (1959), which he also directed; and the films The Manchurian Candidate and Breakfast at Tiffany's.

2012 Richard Adler, who with partner Jerry Ross, wrote the classic and tuneful workplace musicals Damn Yankees and The Pajama Game, dies at age 90.

More of Today's Birthdays: Dorothy Stickney 1896. Mack Gordon 1904. Mary McCarthy 1912. Jane Russell 1921. Maureen Stapleton 1925. Don Black 1938. Mariette Hartley 1940. Michael Gross 1947. David Marshall Grant 1955. Benjamin Walker 1982.

Watch highlights from Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera:

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