1867 Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. is born in Chicago, Illinois. He goes on to become one of the most powerful showmen ever. His Follies, filled with beautiful women and exciting variety acts, becomes a 25-year tradition following the first Follies of 1907. He introduces talent such as Fanny Brice, Bert Williams, Ed Wynn, W.C. Fields, Marion Davies, Eddie Cantor, and Will Rogers.
1927 Jeanne Eagels plays Simone, a married woman who hires Leslie Howard to be Her Cardboard Lover. The Jacques Deval comedy runs at the Empire Theatre in New York for 19 weeks.
1957 In Orpheus Descending, Cliff Robertson plays a drifter not welcome in a small southern town. Maureen Stapleton co-stars in the Tennessee Williams drama. There are 68 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre. Harold Clurman stages.
1968 Canterbury Tales opens at London's Phoenix Theatre. Neville Coghill writes the book with Martin Starkie. Coghill also provides the lyrics for the music composed by Richard Hill and John Hawkins. It runs for 2,082 performances.
1982 Donny Osmond makes his Broadway debut in a revival of George M. Cohan's 1904 musical Little Johnny Jones. Despite the presence of classic Cohan tunes like "Yankee Doodle Boy" and "Give My Regards to Broadway," it closes on opening night.
1990 Kathleen Turner is the Cat and Charles Durning the Big Daddy in a revival of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. Howard Davies directs the production, which runs 149 performances.
1997 Billed as "a comedy of ancient and modern life in eight scenes," the Wooster Group's version of Eugene O'Neill's 1921 expressionist work The Hairy Ape has a commercial Off-Broadway run at the newly reopened Selwyn Theatre. Willem Dafoe stars as Yank.
2001 A line of ticket buyers (a rare sight in the age of telephone and online ticket sales) snakes down 44th Street as previews begin for Mel Brooks' musical adaptation of The Producers.
2001 Bat Boy, a musical adaptation of the tabloid newspaper legend, opens Off-Broadway. It runs 278 performances at the Union Square Theatre.
2002 The much-lauded 1998 Trevor Nunn-Susan Stroman National Theatre production of Oklahoma! opens on Broadway after overcoming years of issues. Despite a $12 million advance, the show gets mixed reviews, loses the Best Revival Tony Award to Into the Woods, and runs 11 months.
2003 Chita Rivera puts her stamp on a sixth decade when she plays Liliane LeFleur in a Broadway revival of Nine costarring Antonio Banderas, Jane Krakowski, and many other female luminaries. The production, which starts previews on this day, wins the 2003 Tony Award as Best Revival of a Musical.
2005 Farewell to two old friends. Bobby Short, 80, one of the cabaret world's most revered performers and a living symbol of a bygone brand of late-night New York style, dies of leukemia. Barney Martin, 82, the character actor with a hangdog expression who played the beleaguered Amos Hart in the original Broadway production of the musical Chicago, dies of cancer.
2013 Hands on a Hardbody, the show about a cross-section of Texans hoping to win a pickup truck in a grueling endurance competition, opens on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The musical's score is by Amanda Green and Phish frontman Trey Anastasio with a book by Doug Wright. The cast includes Keith Carradine, Hunter Foster, Jay Armstrong Johnson, and Keala Settle. Following mixed reviews and poor ticket sales, the production closes after 28 performances.
2019 Derrick Baskin, James Harkness, Jawan M. Jackson, Jeremy Pope, and Ephraim M. Sykes "ain't too proud to beg" as Ain't Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations opens at Broadway's Imperial Theatre. With a book by Dominique Morisseau and the song catalog of The Temptations, the show tells the story of the group's extraordinary journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—how they met, how they rose, the groundbreaking heights they hit, and how personal and political conflicts threatened to tear the group apart as the United States fell into civil unrest. The show will go on to receive 12 2019 Tony Award nominations, with Sergio Trujillo winning for his choreography.
More of Today's Birthdays: Eugenie Leontovich (1900-1993). Mark Hellinger (1903-1947). Peter Brook (b. 1925). James Coco (1930-1987). Matthew Broderick (b. 1962). Rosie O'Donnell (b. 1962). Santino Fontana (b. 1982).