PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: JULY 6

By David Gewirtzman
and Ernio Hernandez and Robert Viagas
July 6, 2013

1939 A young Hollywood hopeful is forced to watch her own career fizzle as her boyfriend's blossoms in Lew Brown's new musical, Yokel Boy. Lois January and Buddy Ebsen star in the new show, opening tonight at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway. There will be 208 performances.



1970 American actress Marjorie Rambeau dies today at age 81. Most of her career was spent performing in stock companies, with credits included productions at the Burbank and Belasco Theatres in Los Angeles. Rambeau made her New York stage debut in 1913's Kick In and subsequently appeared there in Cheating Cheaters and Eyes of Youth.

1972 Actor Brandon de Wilde dies today in Lakewood, California. Born in 1942, he is only 30 years old at the time of his death. Winning the Donaldson Award for his performance in Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding at the age of seven, de Wilde became the youngest actor ever to receive that honor.

1999 Composer-lyricist Paul Gordon and librettist-director John Caird's musical, Jane Eyre, based on the Charlotte Bronte novel, opens at Southern California's La Jolla Playhouse tonight. The story of an impoverished governess who falls in love with her employer will make its way to Broadway Dec. 10, 2000. Despite a handful of major Tony Award nominations, a Drama Desk Award for lead actress Marla Schaffel and a donation by songwriter Alanis Morrisette of $150,000 to keep it running, the show ends its journey June 10, 2001.

2000 The high-altitude comedy, The Man in the Flying Lawn Chair, begins performances at New York City's 78th Street Theatre Lab. The ensemble created piece explores the real life Larry Walters, who launched himself to 16,000 feet in an aluminum lawn chair, with the help of fifty surplus weather balloons, where he was spotted by passing aircraft.

2001 Brooke Shields returns to Broadway as Sally Bowles in the Cabaret revival. Also today, pop singer and '80s icon Cyndi Lauper stars in David Henry Hwang's new musical Largo, which had a brief run at New York Stage and Film's summer season at Vassar College's Powerhouse Theatre.

2004 Buddy Ebsen, the folksy star of television's "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Barnaby Jones" who began his career as a popular Broadway dancer, dies in Los Angeles at age 95. Ebsen's seven-decade career began in New York, when he was cast in the chorus of the 1928 Eddie Cantor vehicle Whoopee!. He danced with his sister Vilma in that and several other Broadway shows, as well as in clubs and on the vaudeville circuit. Ebsen was successful enough to be cast in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1934, where his co-stars included Fanny Brice and Eve Arden. Other shows included Flying Colors (1932) and Yokel Boy (1939). He missed his chance at movie immortality when he withdrew at the Tin Man in the MGM musical "The Wizard of Oz" when he developed an allergic reaction to the silver face paint.

2011 The London premiere of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's musical Road Show opens at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Directed by John Doyle, the production stars Michael Jibson and David Bedella as brothers Addison and Wilson Mizner.

Born on This Date: Aleksander Pushkin 1799. Margaret Phillips 1923. Susan Johnson 1927. Donal Donnelly 1931. Ned Beatty 1937. Claude-Michel Schonberg 1944. Geoffrey Rush 1951.