1943 "The theatre -- and its patrons -- are increasingly assuming a tolerance that has too long been lacking," says Variety concerning the pairing of white Uta Hagen as Desdemona with black Paul Robeson as the title character in Othello, which opens tonight at the Shubert Theatre. Jose Ferrer, married offstage to Hagen, plays Iago. Burton Rascoe of the World-Telegram reports that this production is "one of the most memorable events in the history of the theatre." It runs 295 performances.
1944 Marlon Brando makes his Broadway debut tonight only three years before he is to win critical acclaim in 1947's A Streetcar Named Desire. He is featured in I Remember Mama, the John Van Druten comedy produced by Rodgers and Hammerstein, which opens tonight at the Music Box Theatre. Brando is reported in the Playbill as having "served his apprenticeship at the New School...Born in Calcutta, India, he came to this country when he was six months old." The truth is that Brando was born in Omaha, Nebraska. According to the New York Journal-American, "Brando's Nels is, if he doesn't mind me saying so, charming." Mady Christians and Oscar Homolka are the stars in this production, which is the basis for the 1949 hit television show of the same name. This original production will run 714 performances.
1959 The Miracle Worker is the toast of Broadway tonight as the story of young blind and deaf Helen Keller and her companion, Annie Sullivan, is brought to life by young Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft. This show, which opened at the Playhouse Theatre, won Bancroft a Tony Award for Best Actress, and playwright William Gibson won the Tony for Best Play. The 1962 film starred these same two women, now winning Oscars for their performances. The play will run 719 performances.
1987 Patti LuPone recreates Ethel Merman's role of Reno Sweeney in the revival of Anything Goes, which opens tonight at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. This 1934 Cole Porter musical has been revamped, adding several of his original songs to the score. Anthony Heald ("The Silence of the Lambs") co-stars with LuPone. The show gained several rave reviews, especially for LuPone. Frank Rich says that "Ms. LuPone is the top. She has lips so insinuatingly protruding they could make the Pledge of Allegiance sound lewd." The show will run 804 performances.
1995 She keeps going, and going ... Carol Channing returned to the stage today in another revival of Hello, Dolly at the Lunt-Fontaine Theatre, 31 years after she first played the role of Dolly Levi. The show ran 180 performances. --By Sam Maher and Steve Luber