Since it’s summer and lately it feels too hot to think, we thought we’d share with you one of our first posts about some of the amazing playwrights we have worked with in the last century!
Philip & Marilyn
Since we’ve been celebrating American history all week, we thought we’d share this post with you again, as it is where history and theatre intersect!
Philip & Marilyn
Certainly one of the most exciting plays we ever produced was Sunrise at Campobello, the story of Franklin D. Roosevelt during the early 1920s.
We were extremely happy when Dore Schary, a prominent head of MGM, decided to leave Hollywood to concentrate on writing and producing plays in New York!
His first play, Sunrise, was excellent! We opened the play on what would have been Roosevelt’s 76th birthday—January 30, 1958. It was directed by Vincent J. Donehue and starred Ralph Bellamy as Roosevelt, along with Mary Fickett, Henry Jones, Anne Seymour, Mary Welch, Alan Bunce and more!
The play ran for 16 months with 556 spectacular performances. It was nominated for 6 Tonys in 1958 and won Best Play, Best Actor, Best Director…
- Best Play (winner)
- Outstanding Actor in a Play—Ralph Bellamy (winner)
- Direction—Vincent J. Donehue (winner)
- Featured Actor in a Play—Henry Jones (winner)
- Featured Actress in…
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Two weeks ago President Obama had to bypass his and Michelle’s visit to the Taj Mahal at full moon when he needed to visit Saudi Arabia because of the death of King Abdullah.
Of course, this sparked our memory:
My actress wife, Marilyn Clark, and I had the greatest time visiting the Taj Mahal 20 years ago.
We had finished a trip to Nepal, where we had visited – if you can believe – a place we decided to invest in, called Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge.
Here I am in this picture herding elephants at Tiger Tops. Unfortunately, it later closed and we never did get our investment returned!
At any rate we were heading back to the U.S. and decided to take a few days to see the Taj Mahal by moonlight!!!!
Certainly the most beautiful sight we have ever seen in our lives!
The picture here says it all–and proves that a picture really is worth a thousand words!
Do try if you can!
This picture is every producer’s dream—lots of people scurrying to buy tickets! In fact, when Oklahoma! opened in 1943, we had to hire a full time policeman to handle the crowds (a rare expense a producer doesn’t mind paying!).
At any rate, this picture of the line out front of A Majority of One in February 1959 makes us think of what a pleasure it is to have a hit play on Broadway.
Majority was written by Leonard Spigelgass and directed by Dore Schary. Gertrude Berg plays a Jewish mother on a ship to Japan, where her son has been killed in the War. On board the ship, she meets a Japanese business man, played by Sir Cedric Hardwicke (a lovely man!), with whom she falls in love.
We all know that only one out of four Broadway plays earns its money back, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from constantly fighting to get their plays produced.
All we can say as producers is “we’re sure this next one will be a hit!”
This Throwback Thursday features a great photo of Paul Robeson in his garb as the well-known character of Othello, which The Theatre Guild produced on Broadway in 1943-1944.
Robeson’s portrayal of Othello was so masterful and well-performed that John Dover Wilson—one of the premier Shakespeare critics at the time—commented that Robeson’s Othello was the best performance of the century!
When I was about 10 years old, I used to spend wonderful times wrestling and playing with Paul’s son, Paul Jr.!
Paul broke through so many barriers coming from the son of a former slave, and knowing him and his family was indeed an honor!
Now that we’re starting to get into the swing of things here—we decided to go back to our roots, as it seems that the posts everyone seems to love most are the ones with the history in them. As such, we’re going to bring you a weekly story from The Theatre Guild archives—something perhaps taken from this:
And look: it was only 50 cents! My have times changed since the 1920s!
Stay tuned for more!
As we all know Eugene O’Neill was very sad about his father, James O’Neill. Gene—and many others—felt that James was a wonderful actor and that he could have a major part in any American play he cared to be in! Alas, James O’Neill chose to spend his theatrical life in a potboiler, The Count of Monte Cristo. He played it all over the U.S. year after year—over 6000 performances in 40 years!
Gene was quoted as saying:
My father was really a remarkable actor, but the enormous success of “Monte Cristo” kept him from doing other things. He could go out year after year and clear fifty thousand in a season. He thought that he simply couldn’t afford to do anything else. But in his later years he was full of bitter regrets. He felt “Monte Cristo” had ruined his career as an artist.
While a bit faded, this 1897 advertising poster still adorns our living room—talk about a Throwback Thursday from way, way back!