PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: AUGUST 4

By Ernio Hernandez
and Robert Viagas
04 Aug 2014

1981 Melvyn Douglas dies today at the age of 80. Born in Macon, Georgia as Melvyn Edouard Heselberg, Douglas went on to become one of the more accomplished stage actors of his generation. Among his New York theatre credits were Time Out for Ginger, The Best Man and Inherit the Wind. Douglas’ performances in "Hud" and “Being There” earned him Academy Awards for best supporting actor.



1985 Charles Dickens' unfinished novel becomes The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a musical by Rupert Holmes at Off-Broadway's Delacorte Theatre. The play-within-a-play adaptation is performed by a cast including Betty Buckley, Judy Kuhn and Donna Murphy, who play members of a troupe that is performing the show. The show will transfer to Broadway's Imperial Theatre later in the season and run for 608 performances, eventually changing its title to simply Drood.

1988 Denzel Washington makes his Broadway debut in the comedy Checkmates with Ruby Dee and Paul Winfield. The show will run 172 performances at the 46th Street Theatre.

1999 Following her recent Oscar win for "Shakespeare in Love," Gwyneth Paltrow returns to the stage at Massachusetts' Williamstown Theatre Festival in As You Like It. Once again cross-dressing, she stars as Rosalind in a cast that includes Mark Linn-Baker, Michael Cumpsty, Lea DeLaria and Allesandra Navola. Barry Edelstein directs.

2002 Harlem Song, George C. Wolfe's history of New York City's world-famous African-American neighborhood as told through its music and dance, opens at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, returning that theatre to the ranks of the city's legitimate stages. Tony nominee B.J. Crosby (Smokey Joe's Cafe) and solo performer Queen Esther lead the cast. She show will run through Dec. 29 and release a cast album.

Today's Birthdays: Louis Armstrong 1901. Louise Kirtland 1919. D.L. Coburn 1938. Amelia Campbell 1965.