Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 3

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: January 3
In 1952, Harold Lang, Helen Gallagher, Elaine Stritch, and Vivienne Segal star in a revival of Pal Joey.
Harold Lang, Patricia Northrup, Gordon Peters, and Vivienne Segal in Pal Joey.
Harold Lang, Patricia Northrup, Gordon Peters, and Vivienne Segal in Pal Joey. John Bennewitz / The New York Public Library

1909 Birthday of Victor Borge, pianist and comedian whose 1953 Comedy in Music runs 888 performances, the longest run ever for a solo musical on Broadway. He follows it with Comedy in Music Opus 2 in 1964 and Comedy With Music in 1977, but does not achieve another long run.

1928 Beatrice Lillie and Clifton Webb are in the cast of She's My Baby—or so says the man who pretends to be a father and husband in order to borrow $200,000. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart provide the music and lyrics to the Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby book.

1938 A dramatic night on Broadway as the Mercury Theatre presents Marc Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock at the Windsor Theatre after the original production was shut down by the WPA for its attack on capitalism. Will Geer plays Mr. Mister. It runs 108 performances.

1944 Ruth Gordon writes and stars in her autobiographical play Over 21, which opens at the Music Box Theatre and runs 221 performances.

1945 Richard Basehart is the lead in The Hasty Heart. The John Patrick drama at the Hudson Theatre, about patients in a military hospital in Southeast Asia, runs 207 performances.

1952 Twelve years after it was critically slammed, the hard-bitten musical Pal Joey gets a revival that becomes one of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's longest: 540 performances. The cast includes Harold Lang, Helen Gallagher, Elaine Stritch, and, recreating her original role, Vivienne Segal. During the run, Lang is replaced by his understudy, Bob Fosse—his first Broadway lead.

1957 The Small War on Murray Hill gets a small showing at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The comedy by Robert E. Sherwood highlighting an incident during the Revolutionary War wins just 12 performances, despite a cast that includes Leo Genn, Jan Sterling, and Daniel Massey. Garson Kanin directs.

1962 Brecht on Brecht, or more precisely George Tabori on Brecht. Tabori translates and adapts a sampler of Bertolt Brecht's prose, poetry, songs, and drama. Lotte Lenya, Viveca Lindfors, Dane Clark, and Anne Jackson are among the cast for 424 performances at Theatre de Lys in New York.

More of Today's Birthdays: Josephine Hull (1899-1989). ZaSu Pitts (1894-1963). Marion Davies (1897-1961). Anna May Wong (1905-1961). Jesse White (1917-1997). Telly Leung (b. 1980). Justin Paul (b. 1985).

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