As far as Time magazine is concerned, composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein are among the most important and influential 20 artists of the 20th century. Keeping the songwriters of Oklahoma! and Carousel company are geniuses Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, and Igor Stravinsky, along with such selections as Jim Henson, Bart Simpson and Oprah Winfrey.
Time's tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein (who, by the way, count as one person on the list) was written for the magazine by Andrew Lloyd Webber, curiously enough. Lloyd Webber called Rodgers "possibly the 20th century's greatest tune writer."
Other artists who made the grade and who have worked in the theatre, though not extensively, include actor Marlon Brando, poet T.S. Eliot, and silent film star Charlie Chaplin. The magazine also identified five plays as landmarks of 20th Century drama: Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, Liugi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. Not mentioned were the works of Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, and Anton Chekhov, to name a few.
Time will round out its "100 Most Important People of the 20th Century" by announcing, over the course of the next year, its top 20 choices in the categories of Builders and Titans, Scientists and Thinkers, and Heros and Inspirations. The top 20 Leaders and Revolutionaries have already been revealed. Time will disclose is choice for Person of the Century by the end of 1999, although the century does not officially end until Dec. 31, 2000 (as the journalists over at Time ought to know). Bad luck for anyone who makes their mark during those last 12 months.
-- By Robert Simonson