1893 Birthday of Jimmy "Schnozzola" Durante, the comedian who stars on Broadway in Show Girl, The New Yorkers, and Strike Me Pink. Catchphrases include "Everybody wants to get into the act!," "Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are," and, when comically caught stealing a pachyderm in Jumbo, standing in front of it and asking his pursuers, "What elephant?"
1898 Birthday of German playwright Bertolt Brecht. An early socialist, he writes scathing attacks on capitalist society, including the musicals Threepenny Opera and Happy End, both with composer Kurt Weill. Other plays include The Good Woman of Setzuan and Mother Courage and Her Children.
1914 Composer Sigmund Romberg makes his Broadway debut with The Whirl of the World. The hit musical runs 161 performances and starts Romberg's 40-year career. He would go on to make Maytime, Blossom Time, The Desert Song, The New Moon, and more.
1949 Willy Loman knows his territory and wants to make a sale. His big pitch happens tonight with Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, starring Lee J. Cobb. It runs 742 performances at the Morosco Theatre and wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and six Tony Awards, including Best Play. Future Broadway revivals star George C. Scott, Dustin Hoffman, Brian Dennehy, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
1955 Paul Newman, Karl Malden, and Nancy Coleman fill The Desperate Hours. Joseph Hayes' thriller about a family held hostage by escaped convicts runs at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre for 212 performances.
1960 Bud Freeman and Leon Pober couldn't Beg, Borrow or Steal a hit with their urban musical, which runs just five performances at the Martin Beck. Estelle Parsons, Eddie Bracken, Betty Garrett, Larry Parks, and Biff McGuire all have feature roles.
1965 Diamond Orchid by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee runs just five performances at the Henry Miller's Theatre. José Quintero stages.
1965 Albarwild Theatre Arts, a new producing team consisting of Edward Albee, Richard Barr, and Clinton Wilder, opens its first New Playwrights Series at the Cherry Lane Theatre. The opening bill showcases budding playwrights Lanford Wilson, Sam Shepard, and Paul Foster, two of whom go on to win Pulitzer Prizes and change the course of 20th-century theatre. In the next few years, Albarwild provides a commercial creative engine for the Off-Off-Broadway movement.
1966 Broadway impresario Billy Rose dies at age 66. The dynamo behind such spectacles as Jumbo and the 1939 World's Fair Aquacade was also the owner of the Ziegfeld Theatre.
1998 The 100th anniversary of Bertolt Brecht's birth is celebrated at California's Brecht Centennial. Play readings, performances, cabarets, and seminars honor the father of Epic Theatre.
1999 Brian Dennehy stars in a revival of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre exactly 50 years after the original Broadway debut of the play.
2005 Arthur Miller, 89, author of Death of Salesman, The Crucible, A View From the Bridge, After the Fall, Incident at Vichy, The Price, and All My Sons, dies at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. His last Broadway production before his death was a 2004 revival of After the Fall, a parable about his failed marriage to Marilyn Monroe.
2008 The original cast recording of Spring Awakening wins the Grammy Award as Best Musical Show Album.
More of Today's Birthdays: Bert Kalmar (1884-1947). Alan Hale (1892-1950). Judith Anderson (1897-1992). Stella Adler (1901-1992). Erik Rhodes (1906-1990). Joyce Grenfell (1910-1979). Louis Botto (1924-2012). Leontyne Price (b. 1927). Barrie Ingham (1932-2015). Billy Goldenberg (1936-2020). Peter Allen (1944-1992), Kenny Leon (b. 1956). Uzo Aduba (b. 1981).