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

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14 May 2013

Chita Rivera in <i>West Side Story</i>.
Chita Rivera in West Side Story.

The 2012-13 Tony Award nominations were announced April 30, and discussions about those recognized and those snubbed began immediately. With ongoing discussions about who made the list and who didn't, we compiled our own list of some of the most notorious oversights in Tony history.

Chita Rivera, who has two Tony Awards and seven nominations under her belt, did not receive a nomination for her performance as Anita in Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's musical West Side Story. Rivera was described in the 1957 New York Times review as one of several actors giving a "terse and vigorous" performance as the opinionated immigrant who extolls the virtues of America.

Following the success of My Fair Lady, expectations were high for Alan Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s next project, a musical adaptation of "The Once and Future King." But despite the past successes of these partners and a stellar cast that included Robert Goulet and Julie Andrews, Camelot was not considered royalty by the Tony nominators during “the lusty month of May.” While the leading actor and actress, as well as the scenic design, costume design, conductor and musical director were honored with nominations, the show itself was not. But the publicity for Camelot resulted in an unprecedented advance sale of three-and-a-half million dollars, and the show ran for three years. Even without a Best Musical nod, fans seemed to agree with Lancelot’s sentiment, “No, never could I leave you at all.”

Barbara Cook's performance as Amalia in She Loves Me, the 1963 Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick musical, was widely praised, but Cook, who already had one Tony Award under her belt for her role as Marian in Meredith Willson's The Music Man, was not nominated for playing the fiesty perfume salesclerk who is smitten with her anonymous pen pal (who happens to be her co-worker). Cook received accolades for both her soprano and her personality, but she failed to nab a nomination. Perhaps she consoled herself with some vanilla ice cream?


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