90 YEARS AGO (1925)
Tony-winning actress Elaine Stritch is born on Feb. 2 in Detroit. She will make her Broadway debut in 1946 in Loco, and will go on to be Ethel Merman’s understudy for Call Me Madam, star in shows like Sail Away, Company and Pal Joey, and eventually create a hit one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty.
80 YEARS AGO (1935)
George S. Kaufman’s play Merrily We Roll Along closes at the Music Box Theatre on Feb. 9 after 155 regular performances. The show, written by Kaufman and Moss Hart, is a financial disaster at the time it closes, but 46 years later it will be rewritten as a musical by Stephen Sondhiem and George Furth. The latter, though also a flop in its short-lived Broadway debut, will later be considered a classic by many fans.
60 YEARS AGO (1955)
Ben Bagley’s Shoestring Revue opens at the President Theatre with a cast that includes a young Bea Arthur, Chita Rivera and Arte Johnson. The show, a series of sketches featuring a different cast member in each, is considered Bagley’s first hit.
10 YEARS AGO (2005)
Arthur Miller, the morally sensitive author of the landmark drama Death of Salesman as well as The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, After the Fall, Incident at Vichy and The Price, dies of cancer, pneumonia and a heart condition at his home in Roxbury, Conn. The last Broadway production before his death was a 2004 revival of After the Fall, a parable about his failed marriage to actress Marilyn Monroe, and his last play, produced at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre months before his death, was Finishing the Picture, was also about an episode from his marriage to Monroe: the time they spent shooting the movie The Misfits as their marriage was disintegrating.