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Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: December 24

1904 Lillian Russell, a.k.a Diamond Lil, stars in Lady Teazle, a musical based on The School for Scandal. John Kendrick Bangs and Roderic C. Penfield provide the music to a score by A. Baldwin Sloane. The 86 chorus girls fill the theatre for just 57 performances.

1914 The Lie by Henry Arthur Jones opens at the Harris Theatre in New York, where it runs for 172 performances. The cast includes C. Aubrey Smith and Margaret Illington.

1917 You get the Parlor, Bedroom, and Bath at the Republic Theatre. The comedy by C. W. Bell and Mark E. Swan runs for 232 performances. Inhabiting the rooms are Helen Menken, Francine Larrimore, and May Vallen. The show becomes a film vehicle—a talkie—for Buster Keaton.

1950 José Ferrer and Gloria Swanson star in the first Broadway revival of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur‘s comedy Twentieth Century. Originally announced as a limited two-week engagement at the ANTA Playhouse, it quickly transfers to a commercial run at the Fulton Theatre where it runs an additional six months.

1962 British actor Jean Forbes-Robertson dies at the age of 57. She appeared in Berkeley Square, as the lead in Peter Pan, and in Time and the Conways.

2000 Victor Borge dies at 91. Borge was a comedy legend who performed almost all of his life. His solo Broadway show, Comedy in Music, ran for 849 performances and was Borge’s biggest American break.

2001 Boldly going where he’s been three times previously, Star Trek star Patrick Stewart returns to Broadway with his one-man performance of Charles DickensA Christmas Carol.

2008 Harold Pinter, the one-time British actor who tried his hand at writing in the 1950s only to become one of the most prominent and influential playwrights of the second half of the 20th century, dies at age 78. The winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, his plays included The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Homecoming, and Betrayal.

2012 Jack Klugman, who brought a straight-forward, salt-of-the-earth quality to scores of roles over a long career, and became famous as the television embodiment of Neil Simon‘s Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple, dies at age 90. Klugman was Tony-nominated for his performance as Herbie in the original production of Gypsy. His other Broadway credits included productions of The Odd Couple, I’m Not Rappaport, and The Sunshine Boys.

Today’s Birthdays: Harry Warren (1893-1981). Brooke Johns (1893-1987). Carol Haney (1924-1964). Norman Allen (b. 1939). Jeremy Davidson (b. 1971). Ricky Martin (b. 1971). Daniel N. Durant (b. 1989).

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