1912 Jane Cowl becomes a star while performing in Within the Law by Bayard Veiller. The play is about a woman wrongfully accused of theft. It is also the premiere production at the new Eltinge Theatre on 42nd Street.
1918 A report comes out commending the new army camp musical by Irving Berlin, Yip, Yip, Yaphank. The musical, which opened at the Century Theatre on August 19, showcases 350 Camp Upton soldiers and Berlin himself. The report applauds Berlin's show because it makes a soldier's life seem not so bad. One of the themes of the musical is that "the soldier's life is after all a happy one." The show features among other things, soldiers in drag wearing blackface singing "Mandy," while Berlin himself sings "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning." Berlin's classic song, "God Bless America," was originally written for Yaphank but dropped because he felt it too "sticky" for the production. The song does not surface again until 1938, when Kate Smith introduces it on the radio.
1959 The now landmark statue of song and dance man George M. Cohan is unveiled in Times Square, opposite the Palace Theatre.
1994 Broadway's original Blanche Du Bois, Jessica Tandy, dies at the age of 85. A legend of both stage and screen, she won three Tony Awards for her performances in A Streetcar Named Desire, The Gin Game, and Foxfire. She also earned an Academy Award for her role in Driving Miss Daisy. Her husband and longtime co-star, Hume Cronyn, shared a Tony Lifetime Achievement Award with her earlier in the year.
2001 On a sunny Tuesday morning, terrorists fly two commercial airliners into New York City's World Trade Center "Twin Towers," and a third into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., causing mass death, destruction, and chaos in both cities. All theatrical performances are canceled for the next two days around the U.S. In ensuing years, the event inspires numerous plays, including The Guys, Omnium Gatherum, Portraits, and Recent Tragic Events.
2002 On the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks, many Broadway and Off-Broadway shows cancel or reschedule performances, leaving their theatres dark for the day.
2009 Larry Gelbart, the two-time Tony Award-winning librettist who was also a playwright and a screenwriter for TV and movies, dies at the age of 81. Viewed as a master of situation comedy and one-liners, Gelbart won Tonys for Best Book of a Musical for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which he co-wrote with Burt Shevelove, and City of Angels. He also developed the Robert Altman movie M*A*S*H into the hit TV series, co-wrote the screenplay to the Hollywood comedy Tootsie, and wrote the Broadway plays Sly Fox (based on Ben Jonson's Volpone) and Mastergate.
2011 Sweet and Sad, the world-premiere drama by Richard Nelson set on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, has a timely opening night Off-Broadway at the Public Theater. Nelson revisits the Apple family (first seen in his 2010 play That Hopey Changey Thing) as they reflect on America a decade after the events of 9/11.
2011 The Select (The Sun Also Rises), Elevator Repair Service's dramatic look at Ernest Hemingway's post-war classic, opens Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop. ERS founder John Collins directs the three-hour and fifteen-minute ensemble work that pares the novel down to much of Hemingway's dialogue.
2017 Sir Peter Hall, founder of Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company and longtime director of the National Theatre in London (from 1973 until 1988), dies at age 86. Hall's directing credits included the world premieres of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming and Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, and the English-language premiere of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.
Today's Birthdays: D. H. Lawrence 1885. Georges Metaxa 1899. Henderson Forsythe 1917. Alan Bergman 1925. Lee Richardson 1926. Gerome Ragni 1935. Reed Birney 1954. Adriane Lenox 1956. Harry Connick Jr. 1967.
Watch highlights from the 2011 Broadway revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, starring Harry Connick Jr.: