"I was thrilled when I was told I was going to be inducted tonight," Jim Dale cheerily declared at the top of the 39th Annual Theater Hall of Fame ceremonies, held Jan. 25 in the northern rotunda of the Gershwin Theatre, a pantheon already riddled with the gold-leafed lettering of previous inductees.
"I was even more thrilled because I was an Englishman who was going to be inducted into this American Theater Hall of Fame — that was, until a couple of months ago, when I sent in my application to become an American citizen. I intend to be one in a couple of month's time now."
The Barnum Tony winner got his medallion by Frank Dunlop, a friend of 45 years and director for eight shows (including the career-making Scapino).
Eight other theatrical giants joined him on the walls — songwriter Stephen Schwartz, producers Roger Berlind and Theodore Mann, actors John McMartin and Charles Ludlam, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and publicist Shirley Herz. The latter won the 2009 Found Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Theatre.
The last was Lynn Redgrave, who, like Dale, was Oscar-nominated for 1966's cheeky comedy, "Georgy Girl" (he for the title tune's lyrics, she for the title performance). She was introduced by the director of her last four stage outings, Joseph Hardy.
"Being in the theatre has been the most wonderful thing for me," said the daughter of theatrical royalty (Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson) who was Tony-nominated for her one-woman show about her father, Shakespeare for My Father, and who just premiered, early this month at Tucson's Invisible Theatre, a show about her mother's Shakespearean obsession, Rachel and Juliet.
"I started out in an extraordinary way," she admitted. "My first director, for A Midsummer Night's Dream, was the very great Tony Richardson [her brother-in-law for a while]. And then I went to the National Theatre and worked with Noel Coward, who adored me. He absolutely adored me, and I started calling him 'Dad' — which actually," she added, mindful of the laugh ahead, "was vaguely appropriate." (Her father played on Coward's team, a fact referenced in Shakespeare for My Father).
— Harry Haun