And the Winner Isn't: Famous Tony Award Snubs Through the Years

By Carey Purcell
14 May 2013

Dustin Hoffman in Death of a Salesman.
Photo by Inge Morath

"Attention must be paid!" could have been said of Dustin Hoffman's performance as Willy Loman in the 1984 production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. "This daring actor has pursued his own brilliant conception of the character," said Frank Rich in the New York Times. And while Hoffman was awarded the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play, he was not nominated for the Tony. Even though the Tony eluded him, a TV movie of the play was made, and Hoffman went on to win the Emmy and the Golden Globe for the role.

Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets—at least, in the locker room. But Bebe Neuwirth's turn in the role of Lola, the seductive aide-de-camp to the Devil, inspired mixed reviews from the critics and did not receive a Tony nomination. The role had previously been performed and immortalized by Gwen Verdon in the original production and movie adaptation of Damn Yankees, by Douglass Wallop and George Abbot with music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. While the New York Times reviewer David Richards was not a fan of her performance, John Simon at New York magazine praised her performance lavishly. Sometimes scoring a nomination takes more than just a little brains and a little (or a lot of) talent.

As the daffy, flirtatious Lois Lane/Bianca in the 1999 revival of Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate, Amy Spanger received great notices and was credited with stealing every scene she was in. But despite her being almost "too darn hot" for the stage to handle, Tony voters were not "always true" to her, and she did not receive a nomination for the role. Perhaps Spanger wondered of the nominators, "Why can't you behave?"