1915 The huge Hippodrome Theatre opens one of its most successful extravaganzas, Hip! Hip! Hooray! Described by the New York Times as "a gargantuan spectacle, smarter and more sumptuous than any that stage had ever known," the cast includes magician Charles T. Aldrich, clown Dippy Diers, and John Philip Sousa with his band. It runs 425 performances.
1930 A hung jury frees Mae West of obscenity charges for her play, Pleasure Man.
1933 As Thousands Cheer, hailed as one of the greatest stage revues ever, opens at the Music Box Theatre. Moss Hart is author of the "living newspaper"-style sketches. Irving Berlin's score includes "Easter Parade," "Heat Wave," and "Supper Time." Stars include Ethel Waters, Marilyn Miller, Clifton Webb, and Jose Limon. Though it opens in the depths of the Depression, it runs for 400 performances.
1939 Birthday of Tony Award winner Len Cariou, whose Broadway credits include originating the title role in Sweeney Todd, Bill Sampson in Applause, and Fredrik Egerman in A Little Night Music.
1953 Deborah Kerr stars as a teacher's wife who tries to help a "sensitive" teenage boy become a "real man" in the racy-for-its-time drama, Tea and Sympathy, which is one of the first reasonably serious attempts to test the subject of homosexuality on stage. The cast also includes John Kerr (who wins a Tony Award), Leif Erickson, Alan Sues, and Dick York. It runs 712 performances. Later in the run, Tony Perkins replaces Kerr as the young man.
1954 Julie Andrews makes her Broadway debut in Sandy Wilson's The Boy Friend. An affectionate parody of the musicals of the 1920s, it runs for 485 performances at the Royale Theatre.
1983 James Earl Jones, playing in Athol Fugard's Master Harold ...and the Boys in Toronto, suffers a detached retina. He is replaced by Zakes Mokae.
1999 Thirteen years after winning a Best Actress Tony Award for her star turn playing multiple characters in Jane Wagner's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, actor Lily Tomlin returns to the material for a 29-city national tour. A year later, the production returns to Broadway.
2002 Rocker Billy Joel makes his Broadway debut with the first preview of Movin' Out, his collaboration with choreographer Twyla Tharp. The show runs three years and wins Joel a Tony Award for Best Orchestrations.
2004 Hours before a presidential debate between candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry, the Broadway puppet musical Avenue Q stages its own version of the event in Times Square's Duffy Square, with the two contenders played by puppets. The event warns: "Please Note—Any similarity between puppets and actual Presidential candidates is purely coincidental."
2006 Isabel Bigley, who achieved lasting fame in the annals of Broadway history by playing missionary Sarah Brown in the original production of the musical Guys and Dolls, dies in Los Angeles at age 80.
2009 Pan Asian Repertory Theatre launches its 33rd season Off-Broadway with the East Coast premiere of IMELDA, A New Musical. With a book by Sachi Oyama, music by Nathan Wang and lyrics by Aaron Coleman, the musical is a portrait of the ambitious and controversial Imelda Marcos, the former First Lady of the Philippines.
2010 Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters, his acclaimed play about British miners who became celebrated artists in the 1930s and '40s, makes its American premiere—with its original U.K. cast—at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.
2010 Ivo van Hove directs Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes at New York Theatre Workshop Off-Broadway. Elizabeth Marvel stars as Regina Giddens with Cristin Milioti as Alexandra Giddens.
2014 Tom Stoppard's Indian Ink opens as part of Roundabout's Off-Broadway programming. The Scott Ellis-helmed production marks the play's New York premiere.
2018 David Yazbek and Robert Horn's musical adaptation of the classic 1982 film Tootsie opens its pre-Broadway engagement at Chicago's Cadillac Theatre. Santino Fontana stars as Michael Dorsey, a struggling actor who lands a job under the female persona Dorothy Michaels. The production opens on Broadway the following year, and wins Tony Awards for Best Actor in a Musical (Fontana) and Best Book of a Musical (Horn).
More of Today's Birthdays: Wilton Lackaye (1862-1932); Patricia Neway (1919-2012); Deborah Kerr (1921-2007); Donald Swann (1923-1994); Truman Capote (1924-1984); Eric Stoltz (b. 1961); Christopher Jackson (b. 1975); Stark Sands (b. 1978); Kieran Culkin (b. 1982).
Watch highlights from the musical Tootsie: