1893 Lillian Gish, film acting pioneer whose Broadway career lasts from 1913 to 1976, is born. Her stage performances include Camille, The Trip to Bountiful, and several versions of Uncle Vanya.
1912 The first Broadway stage adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, with Alice Brady and Carson Davenport, opens at the Playhouse Theatre.
1930 The Gershwin Brothers, George and Ira, are at it again with the opening of their new musical, Girl Crazy. The show provides an outlet for several unknown stars, both on stage and in the orchestra pit. Ethel Merman stops the show singing "I've Got Rhythm" with an incredible 16-beat hold on the "I." She is later reported as being able to "hold a note longer than Chase Manhattan." Ingenue Ginger Rogers is also in the cast, singing "Embraceable You." In the orchestra are unknown musicians Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Gene Krupa. The show runs more than 34 weeks, racking up 272 performances.
1958 Pre-Star Trek William Shatner plays a painter who falls in love with a Hong Kong sex worker (France Nuyen) in Paul Osborn's The World of Suzie Wong, directed by Joshua Logan.
1961 Frank Loesser reteams with his Guys and Dolls collaborator Abe Burrows on another musical about life in the big city, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, opening at the 46th Street Theatre. This time, Burrows and Loesser look not at the lowlife underground, but at the high life and the goings on within a high-rise office building. The story follows a young man's progression from window washer to CEO of a major company in New York. Although Hugh Lambert is credited with choreographing the show, Bob Fosse is on the bill as having done the "musical staging." Robert Morse co-stars with Donna McKechnie and Rudy Vallee in the musical comedy satire, which gets rave reviews, seven Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and runs for more than 1,400 performances.
1967 One of the largest theatrical empires in the world loses its patriarch as David Nederlander, who founded the Nederlander Organization in 1912, dies. He founded the organization first as a small theatre in Detroit, Michigan. It grew to represent theatres, producers, and shows around the world. Today, the organization is responsible for housing such shows as Wicked, The Lion King, and Hamilton.
1987 Lanford Wilson's Burn This opens at the Plymouth Theatre after successful runs at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum and Off-Broadway's Circle Rep. The play, about a dancer who finds a bully appealing, stars John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Jonathan Hogan, and Lou Liberatore. The show runs 437 performances.
1999 Steve Buscemi stars alongside Willem Dafoe and Kate Valk in the latest show from Wooster Group, the 15-year-old North Atlantic. The work by James Strahs that looks at the changing role of the military was first staged by the Wooster Group at its Performing Garage in January 1984 starring Spalding Gray and Dafoe.
2003 Jerry Springer: The Opera, which enjoyed a smash world premiere run at London's National Theatre, transfers to the West End's Cambridge Theatre for a commercial run. The musical centers on its title character, talk show host Jerry Springer, and his confrontational daytime talk show.
2008 The first show to open at the newly rechristened Samuel J. Friedman Theatre is To Be or Not To Be, Nick Whitby’s adaptation of the Ernst Lubitsch film comedy about a Polish acting troupe that tries to escape the Nazis during World War II with nothing but their acting ability to help them. Casey Nicholaw directs a cast including Jan Maxwell, Peter Benson, and Rocco Sisto for Manhattan Theatre Club.
2010 Matthew Warchus' frothy staging of David Hirson's comedic escapade La Bête, which pits a princess, a playwright, and a pontificating clown against one another, opens on at the Music Box Theatre. Mark Rylance, David Hyde Pierce, and Joanna Lumley star.
2015 James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson star in a Broadway revival of D.L. Coburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Gin Game, opening at the Golden Theatre.
More of Today's Birthdays: Frank Conroy 1890. Pert Kelton 1907. Harve Presnell 1933. Carrie Nye 1936.
Watch highlights from the 50th anniversary Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring Daniel Radcliffe: