1895 Birthday of legendary film choreographer Busby Berkeley, whose career is launched with a 12-show burst of creativity on Broadway between the end of 1926 and the beginning of 1930 (including A Connecticut Yankee and Good Boy) before being whisked off to Hollywood to do films like 42nd Street. His Broadway swan song is 1971's No, No, Nanette.
1932 Cole Porter's Gay Divorce opens at Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre with Fred Astaire making his final Broadway appearance in the cast. Best remembered for introducing Porter's "Night and Day," the work will go on to be adapted for the big screen as The Gay Divorcee in 1934 starring Astaire and Ginger Rogers, their second screen pairing.
1939 Swingin' the Dream, with a cast including Louis Armstrong, Moms Mabley, and Butterfly McQueen opens at the Center Theatre in New York. Erik Charell directs his and Gilbert Seldes' musical, a swing version of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Among its more fanciful elements are sets based on Walt Disney cartoons.
1945 Strange Fruit blossoms under the direction of José Ferrer. Lillian Smith adapts her own novel, with help from her sister. The cast at the Royale Theatre includes Eugenia Rawls, Murray Hamilton, and Ralph Meeker.
1956 Judy Holliday, playing an employee of an answering service, is in love with a man plaza-O-double-four-double-three as Bells Are Ringing opens at Broadway's Shubert Theatre. Written by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Jule Styne, the musical wins Holliday a 1957 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical. She will re-create the performance for the 1960 film adaptation.
1992 Tyne Daly leads a star-filled cast—including Danny Burstein, Ethan Hawke, Laura Linney, Maryann Plunkett, Tony Roberts, and Jon Voight—in a revival of Chekhov's The Seagull at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre.
1997 Lyric Opera of Chicago presents the world premiere of Amistad, by composer Anthony Davis. Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe directs a cast that includes Mark S. Doss and Thomas Young. The opera, based on an 1839 slave uprising aboard a Cuban chartered ship, precedes Steven Spielberg's film version of the same story (also titled Amistad), which opens December 10.
2001 Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's musical Roadside opens at York Theatre Company. They briefly have two musicals on New York stages: Both Roadside and their long-running phenomenon The Fantasticks close within weeks of each other in early 2002.
2006 Director John Doyle brings his trademark actor-musician spin to Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Company, opening today at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Raúl Esparza stars as the perpetually single Bobby in a production that will go on to win Best Revival of a Musical at the 2007 Tony Awards and be filmed for commercial release.
2012 Norbert Leo Butz and Katie Holmes co-star in the Broadway premiere of Theresa Rebeck's dark comedy Dead Accounts, opening at the Music Box Theatre. Jack O'Brien directs the play about an Ohio family whose prodigal son returns flush with money and secrets. The cast also includes Judy Greer, Josh Hamilton, and Jayne Houdyshell.
2017 Amy Schumer, Keegan-Michael Key, Laura Benanti, and Jeremy Shamos star in Meteor Shower, playwright and comedian Steve Martin's debut work on Broadway. The absurdist look at love and marriage opens at Broadway's Booth Theatre.
More of Today's Birthdays: Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888). Trixie Friganza (1870-1955). Chester Erskin (1905-1986). Ann Corio (1909-1999). Raoul Pène Du Bois (1914-1985). Michael Kermoyan (1921-1994). Frank Galati (b. 1943). Hinton Battle (b. 1956). Frank Wildhorn (b. 1959). Jackie Hoffman (b. 1960). Andrew McCarthy (b. 1962).