1854 Oscar Wilde is born in Dublin, Ireland. He writes An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest, and other glittering comedies, before being laid low in a slander suit by the father of his male lover, who labels him a "somdomite" [sic]. Wilde claims that his greatest artwork was his own life.
1888 Another major playwright is born: Eugene O'Neill, multiple Pulitzer winner and Nobel Prize winner, whose roster of majestically-titled dramas includes Long Day's Journey Into Night, Mourning Becomes Electra, The Iceman Cometh, A Moon for the Misbegotten, and Beyond the Horizon.
1903 Birthday of Ford Lee "Buck" Washington, half of the dancing team of Buck and Bubbles that hits stardom in vaudeville, then graduates to Broadway. Stage appearances include Ziegfeld Follies of 1931 and the original cast of Porgy and Bess, in which he creates the role of Mingo (under the name Ford L. Buck).
1925 Five-time Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury is born. Her Broadway appearances include the original Broadway productions of Mame, Dear World, Anyone Can Whistle, and Sweeney Todd.
1939 Acid-tongued New York Times theatre critic Alexander Woolcott is parodied in Kaufman and Hart's Broadway comedy The Man Who Came To Dinner, which stars Monty Woolley and runs for 739 performances.
1945 A revival of Victor Herbert's The Red Mill starts a 531-performance run, making it one of Broadway's longest-running operettas.
1951 Judy Garland opens her legendary concert stand at the Palace Theatre, Judy Garland: Palace Two-A-Day.
1966 Alan Arkin directs Dustin Hoffman in Henry Living's comedy Eh?, which opens at the Circle in the Square (downtown). A chaotic office staff is the subject of the show, which runs 232 performances.
1967 The first postage stamp honoring an American playwright is issued, as Eugene O'Neill's face adorns stamps all over the country.
1990 An Australian father is coming to terms with his gay son in the Cherry Lane Theatre production of The Sum of Us. The father and son are played by Richard Venture and Tony Goldwyn, respectively. During the run of the show, 355 performances, the movie Ghost, starring Goldwyn, plays in theatres across the country.
1997 Side Show, a musical about the real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, who became vaudeville and Follies stars, opens on Broadway. Though it runs only 91 performances, it attracts a small but dedicated cult of fans, many of whom see it again and again during its short run. Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner star as the twins, and receive a joint Tony nomination for their performance.
2001 Neil Simon's comedy 45 Seconds From Broadway opens at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, just a block from it's real-life setting, the Cafe Edison in Times Square. Despite the presence of stage veterans Marian Seldes, Joan Copeland, Alix Korey, Lewis J. Stadlen, and Judy Blazer, the show manages a run of just 73 performances.
2003 Hugh Jackman takes the hearts of the audience to Rio with The Boy From Oz, a musical biography of singer/songwriter Peter Allen, using Allen's own music to tell his life story. Jackman hosts the 2004 Tony Awards ceremony at which he wins the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for the role.
2005 Broadway's Virginia Theatre is renamed the August Wilson Theatre for the playwright who died two weeks earlier. It opened in 1925 as the Guild Theatre, home of the American Theatre Guild, and was also known as the ANTA Theatre for many years.
2008 A revival of Arthur Miller’s 1947 drama All My Sons, the story of an aircraft parts manufacturer who carries a terrible wartime secret, opens on Broadway at the Schoenfeld Theatre. John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Patrick Wilson, and Katie Holmes star in the production, directed by Simon McBurney.
2014 A revival of the classic musical comedy On the Town opens on Broadway at the Lyric Theatre. Tony Yazbeck, Jay Armstrong Johnson, and Clyde Alves star as the sailors on 24-hour shore leave who take on the Big Apple, with Megan Fairchild, Alysha Umphress, and Elizabeth Stanley as the women who steal their hearts. It runs 368 performances.
More of Today's Birthdays: Suzanne Somers (b. 1946). Jeff McCarthy (b. 1954). Kenneth Lonergan (b. 1962). Drew Gehling (b. 1982).