PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: FEBRUARY 18

By Robert Viagas
and Anne Bradley
February 18, 2014

1859 Sholem Yakov Rabinowitz is born in Ukraine. Under the pen name Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916) he will write many stories in Yiddish, several of which will be adapted as plays, most notably Fiddler on the Roof.



1915 Blossom Seeley, Nora Bayes and Joe Jackson are Maid in America. Music to the war-oriented show is provided by Sigmund Romberg and Harry Carroll.

1930 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart collaborate with comedian Ed Wynn on a musical-comedy vehicle called Simple Simon, which runs 135 performances at the Ziegfeld Theatre. The score includes "Ten Cents a Dance."

1948 Mister Roberts, Thomas Heggen's portrait of life aboard a WWII military ship, opens a 1,157-performance run, starring Henry Fonda and David Wayne. It will win the 1948 Tony Award as Best Play.

1954 Audrey Hepburn stars with husband Mel Ferrer in the medieval romance Ondine, directed by Alfred Lunt. It runs 157 performances at the 46th Street Theatre.

1964 It's Any Wednesday or any of the 982 days this comedy will run at the Music Box Theatre. Don Porter stars as a pompous businessman balancing a wife and mistress. Sandy Dennis, Rosemary Murphy, and Gene Hackman are in the cast.

1976 Actor-director-producer Eddie Dowling dies today at age 82. A vaudeville veteran, in 1945 he produced, directed, and starred as Tom in The Glass Menagerie

1982 Ed Graczyk's Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean opens at the Martin Beck Theatre. Robert Altman directs stars Sandy Dennis, Cher, Karen Black, Kathy Bates, Marta Heflin and Sudie Bond for the production, which runs 52 performances.

1999 The Mineola Twins opens at the Roundabout Theatre Company's Off-Broadway Laura Pels Theatre. Paula Vogel, who won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for How I Learned to Drive, penned this play which stars Swoosie Kurtz as the twins and Mo Gaffney. Joe Mantello stages.

2002 Tom Panko, choreographer of Golden Rainbow and other musicals, dies at 74.

2003 Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons troupe christens its new $27 million West 42nd Street mainstage with the first preview of My Life With Albertine, a musical adaptation of Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past."

More of Today's Birthdays: Billy DeWolfe 1907. Jack Palance 1920. Mary Ure 1933. Sinead Cusack 1948. John Travolta 1954. Jayne Atkinson 1959. Matt Dillon 1964. Molly Ringwald 1968. Christopher Sieber 1969. Susan Egan 1970.