Eileen Rodgers, Broadway Musical Actress of '50s and '60s, Dead at 73

Obituaries   Eileen Rodgers, Broadway Musical Actress of '50s and '60s, Dead at 73
Eileen Rodgers Thompson, who, as Eileen Rodgers, had a brief impact on the Broadway musical stage in the 1950s and 1960s, died at the Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 13, the Charlotte Observer reported. She was 73.

Mrs. Thompson made her Broadway debut in 1959 in Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Fiorello!. As Mitzi Travers, she sang a show-stopping number called "Gentleman Jimmy." The next year, she won a bigger part in Tenderloin, another Jerry Bock Sheldon Harnick musical. (About the show, critic Harold Clurman said, "Ron Husmann's singing and Eileen Rodgers' good looks are the only things I remember.") She played Reno Sweeney in a 1962 revival of Anything Goes at New York's Orpheum Theatre. The show ran a year in Manhattan and then reopened in Las Vegas. In 1965, she starred in the short-lived Kelly and in 1966 she was standby for Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun.

Mrs. Thompson, who was born in Pittsburgh, was discovered as an actress in a New York revue called Chic. Prior to that, she was a recording artist, singing for the Charlie Spivak Orchestra and recording albums and singles for Columbia Records. She did not play on Broadway, but recorded the role of Bobo in Oh, Captain!.

When she discovered she was pregnant with her first child, Mrs. Thompson hung up her career. She never again sang or acted professionally. She is survived by her husband Bill Thompson, and sons William and Mark.

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