Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 18

Playbill Vault   Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: February 18
Karen Black, Cher, and Sudie Bond in Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.
Karen Black, Cher, and Sudie Bond in Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.

1859 Sholem Yakov Rabinowitz is born in Ukraine. Under the pen name Sholem Aleichem he writes many stories in Yiddish, several of which are adapted for the stage, most notably Fiddler on the Roof.

1915 Blossom Seeley, Nora Bayes, and Joe Jackson are Maid in America. Music to the war-oriented show is provided by Sigmund Romberg and Harry Carroll.

1930 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart collaborate with comedian Ed Wynn on a musical-comedy vehicle called Simple Simon, which runs 135 performances at the Ziegfeld Theatre. The score includes "Ten Cents a Dance."

1948 Mister Roberts, Thomas Heggen's portrait of life aboard a WWII military ship, opens a 1,157-performance run, starring Henry Fonda and David Wayne. It wins the 1948 Tony Award as Best Play.

1954 Audrey Hepburn stars with husband Mel Ferrer in the medieval romance Ondine, directed by Alfred Lunt. It runs 157 performances at the 46th Street Theatre.

1964 It's Any Wednesday or any of the 982 days the comedy runs at the Music Box Theatre. Don Porter stars as a pompous businessman balancing a wife and mistress. Sandy Dennis, Rosemary Murphy, and Gene Hackman are in the cast.

1976 Actor-director-producer Eddie Dowling dies at age 82. A vaudeville veteran, in 1945 he produced, directed, and starred as Tom in The Glass Menagerie.

1982 Ed Graczyk's Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean opens at the Martin Beck Theatre. Robert Altman directs stars Sandy Dennis, Cher, Karen Black, Kathy Bates, Marta Heflin, and Sudie Bond for the production, which runs 52 performances.

1999 The Mineola Twins opens at the Roundabout Theatre Company's Off-Broadway Laura Pels Theatre. Paula Vogel, who won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for How I Learned to Drive, penned the play which stars Swoosie Kurtz as identical twins Myrna and Myra. Joe Mantello stages.

2002 Tom Panko, choreographer of Golden Rainbow and other musicals, dies at 74.

2003 Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons christens its new $27 million West 42nd Street mainstage with the first preview of My Life With Albertine, Ricky Ian Gordon and Richard Nelson's musical adaptation of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past.

2016 Following an acclaimed Off-Broadway run the previous fall, Stephen Karam’s family ensemble drama The Humans opens on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre. The production runs 365 performances and wins four Tony Awards, including Best Play, Best Featured Actor in a Play (Reed Birney), and Best Featured Actress in a Play (Jayne Houdyshell).

More of Today's Birthdays: Billy DeWolfe 1907. Jack Palance 1920. Mary Ure 1933. Sinead Cusack 1948. John Travolta 1954. Jayne Atkinson 1959. Matt Dillon 1964. Molly Ringwald 1968. Christopher Sieber 1969. Susan Egan 1970.

Watch highlights from Stephen Karam's The Humans:

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