PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today in Theatre History: AUGUST 12

By David Gewirtzman
and Ernio Hernandez, Doug Nevin and Robert Viagas
August 12, 2013

1881 Birthday of Cecil B. DeMille (1881-1959), who began his career as a Broadway actor in shows including Hearts Are Trumps and To Have and To Hold, and a Broadway playwright and producer, before heading west to become one of the pioneering movie moguls of Hollywood.



1892 Alfred Lunt is born today in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After graduating from Carroll College and scratching plans to be an architect, Lunt will soon find himself enjoying a career in the theatre, making his Broadway debut in 1917’s Romance and Arabella and achieving stardom in 1919 with Clarence. In 1922 Lunt marries actress and future stage partner Lynn Fontanne. Among their many credits together will be Design for Living (1933), I Know My Love (1949), and The Visit (1958).

1919 Choreographer and director Michael Kidd is born today. Broadway choreography and/or directing credits include Finian's Rainbow, Guys And Dolls, Destry Rides Again, and The Goodbye Girl.

1982 Nebraska-born actor Henry Fonda dies today at 77. Fonda graced both the stage and the screen garnering a Tony Award in 1948 for his performance in the title role of Mister Roberts. He also starred on Broadway in Two for the Seesaw and The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.

1987 Paul Portner's farce, Shear Madness, opens for a 12-week run at Washington, DC's Kennedy Center. The show, which also enjoys runs in Boston and Chicago, will go on to become the longest-running show in the nation's capital. The improvisational whodunit transports the action of the play to present day Georgetown at the Shear Madness Hair Styling Salon. The performance culminates nightly with an audience vote on who is guilty and who isn't.

1999 Though it technically started at the beginning of June with Natalie Merchant's special concert engagement at the Neil Simon Theatre, the 1999-2000 Broadway season begins in earnest today when John Pielmeier's thriller Voices in the Dark opens at the Longacre Theatre. Judith Ivey stars as a radio talk show host who finds herself menaced by a mysterious caller while staying in an isolated Adirondack cabin.

2001 Take Flight, a musical based on the lives and adventures of famous aviators, opens today at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center. Christiane Noll plays Amelia Earhart in the show written by Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire (Big) and Marsha Norman (The Secret Garden).

2003 Broadway theatres dim their lights this evening to honor the life of tap-dancing actor singer Gregory Hines, who died of cancer Aug. 9 at age 57.

2010 The world premiere of Paul Weitz's Trust — starring Zach Braff, Bobby Cannavale, Sutton Foster and Ari Graynor — opens at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre.

More of Today's Birthdays: Jane Wyatt 1911. Kurt Kasznar 1913. William Goldman 1931. Dana Ivey 1941.