1920 Dudley Digges and Effie Shannon star in the U.S. premiere of George Bernard Shaw's Heartbreak House. It runs 125 performances at the Garrick Theatre.
1925 Birthday of Richard Burton, hard-living actor who will star in Hamlet, The Lady's Not for Burning and Private Lives on Broadway, but perhaps most memorably as King Arthur in the musical Camelot, and in the film version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf opposite his wife Elizabeth Taylor.
1942 The year 1942 finds Katharine Hepburn and Elliott Nugent Without Love. The Theatre Guild presents this Philip Barry play, which will tour and then run 113 performances on Broadway.
1944 Birthday of Tim Rice, who will write lyrics to Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, Aida, Chess and many other musicals.
1949 Birthday of Ann Reinking, dancer and girlfriend of Bob Fosse, who will achieve stardom on her own with Goodtime Charley, and evolves into a Tony-winning choreographer (Chicago, #Fosse).
1950 Uta Hagen and Paul Kelly star in the Broadway premiere of Clifford Odets' The Country Girl at the Lyceum Theatre. Hagen wins the 1951 Tony Award as Best Actress in a Play.
1964 Critics wanted a whole lot more from Something More!, a musical that ran only 15 performances at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. What they got was a well-received Barbara Cook but an otherwise apparently undistinguished show by composer Sammy Fain, lyricists Alan Bergman & Marilyn Bergman and librettist Nate Monaster. Jule Styne directed.
1965 Long before Driving Miss Daisy came the Broadway play-with-music, The Zulu and the Zayda, whose plot — according to Best Plays annual — may be summed up as, "the family of a frisky Jewish granddad hires a Zulu as a companion for him." The show, starring Menasha Skulnik, Ossie Davis and Louis Gossett, Jr., was supposed to open Nov. 9, but the East Coast black-out postponed the opening by 24 hours. Gentle reviews and Skulnik's lasting appeal from his Yiddish theatre days, carried the show to 179 performances.
1970 Danny Kaye as Noah? It worked for Richard Rodgers and Martin Charnin, whose musical retelling of Noah's Ark , Two by Two, begins a ten-month run. The production will be remembered for Kaye's increasingly wild improvisations and ad-libs, which were scarcely affected by a broken leg that caused him to play the part in a wheelchair.
1985 The first day of advance ticket sales for the Dec. 5 opening of Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind, with a star-studded cast, sets a new one-day mark for Off Broadway of $41,210.
1981 Oh, Brother!, Michael Valenti's musical based on The Comedy of Errors relocates Shakespeare's story of mistaken identity to revolutionary Iran. The taking of American hostages during its prep period did little to help its appeal, and it closed after just three performances, despite the presence of Judy Kaye, David Carroll, Harry Groener and Richard B. Shull. The cast album will inspire a modest cult of fans.
1997 An array of wondrous props and puppets fail to help the Gip Hoppe satire, Jackie, bring in the crowds. A London mounting also had difficulty finding a mainstream audience for this carnival-like look at the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
2004 The Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera plays its 7,000th performance at today's matinee.
2011 Hugh Jackman returns to The Great White Way in his musical evening, Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway, opening tonight at the Broadhurst Theatre. During the limited run, Jackman will break records both at the box office and for money raised for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. In recognition of his "contributions to the Broadway community, both as a performer and humanitarian; his tireless dedication to charitable works of many types; and his personal generosity of spirit," Jackman will receive a Special Tony Award in 2012.
More of Today's Birthdays: Maude Turner Gordon 1868. Claude Rains 1889. Marilyn Bergman 1929. Roy Scheider 1932.