Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 8 | Playbill

Playbill Vault Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: September 8 In 1975 jazz titans Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Count Basie make their Broadway debuts in The Concert.
Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald

1914 A farce about selling soap called It Pays to Advertise, by Roi Cooper Megrue and Walter Hackett, opens at the Cohan Theatre. It stars Grant Mitchell and Ruth Shepley.

1925 Comedian Joe E. Brown toplines Captain Jinks, a musical version of Clyde Fitch's hit comedy Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines. The show runs 167 performances.

1932 Jean Bart's melodrama The Man Who Reclaimed His Head opens on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre for a 28-performance run. Claude Rains, Stuart Casey, and Jean Arthur star in the play about a brilliant but deformed man who is driven to madness when he finds out his employer is having an affair with his wife.

1943 The wartime revue Laugh Time opens a 126-performance run with a cast featuring Ethel Waters, Bert Wheeler, Fay Wray, and the dance team of Buck and Bubbles.

1953 Legendary short-lived musical Carnival in Flanders opens at the New Century Theatre. Despite a score by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, a book by Preston Sturges, and a famous leading man in the person of John Raitt, the show only has a six-performance run. Notably, leading lady Dolores Gray wins the 1954 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, the briefest run to be so honored.

1975 Jazz titans Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Count Basie make their Broadway debuts in The Concert at the Uris Theatre. The sold-out two week engagement features Sinatra and Fitzgerald singing against the backdrop of Basie's 18-man band (with 20 additional strings added for Sinatra's set).

1977 Zero Mostel, star of stage and screen, dies at age 62. His most notable work included leading the original Broadway casts of Fiddler on The Roof and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To The Forum and starring in the Mel Brooks film The Producers.

1999 Off-Broadway's Century Theatre becomes The Exact Center of the Universe as Joan Vail Thorne's comedy moves to a commercial run. The Southern-fried family comedy features Frances Sternhagen as a matron unsettled by her son's romance. John Tillinger directs the star and a cast that also features Reed Birney, Marge Redmond, Tracy Thorne, and Sloane Shelton. It runs 142 performances.

2004 British actor Fritha Goodey, 32, who had been scheduled to star with David Suchet in an upcoming Cambridge production of Terrence Rattigan's Man and Boy, is found dead at her home in London.

2009 Jordan Roth, who joined Jujamcyn Theaters in 2005 as resident producer and became vice president the following year, succeeds Rocco Landesman as president of the company.

2009 Army Archerd, who chronicled the projects and practitioners of show business for a half a century through his column in Variety, dies at age 87.

2016 Spamilton, a satirical musical by Forbidden Broadway creator Gerard Alessandrini, opens at Off-Broadway's Triad cabaret. Inspired by the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning Hamilton, the show both celebrates and parodies the landmark musical, along with much of the rest of Broadway. Originally announced as an 18-performance limited engagement, the show extends at the Triad before transferring to an open-ended engagement at the 47th Street Theatre/The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in June 2017.

2019 Red Bull Theater celebrates the Off-Broadway opening of Keith Hamilton Cobb's American Moor at the Cherry Lane Theatre. The monologue play is a journey through Shakespeare and race, as an African-American actor auditioning for the role of Othello must respond to the dictates of a younger, white director.

Today's Birthdays: Howard Dietz (1896-1983). Jean-Louis Barrault (1910-1994). Sir Harry Secombe (1921-2001). Sid Caesar (1922-2014). Michael Frayn (b. 1933). Megan Lawrence (b. 1972). Rogelio Douglas, Jr. (b. 1978). Teal Wicks (b. 1982). Justin Peck (b. 1987).

Look Back at Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof

More Today in Theatre History

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