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September 2 - Edna May

Happy Broadway Birthday to Edna May!

Edna May Pettie was born in 1878 in Syracuse, New York. She took to the stage by the age of five even performing with a Syracuse Gilbert and Sullivan troupe. Later she studied at the New York Conservatoire. Records differ, but sources say she made her Broadway debut in 1896 with “Santa Maria” by Oscar Hammerstein I. The following year she was in “The Belle of New York” at the Casino Theatre. The show was only a moderate success in New York, but was a smash hit the following year in London, where it played nearly 700 performances making her the belle of London town. Her photograph was made into postcards and her image was everywhere. In 1900 the show returned to Manhattan for a return engagement of three weeks. She was signed by famous impresario Charles Frohman and four years later she played the leading role in “The School Girl” first at Daly’s Theatre, then at the Herald Square. A few years later Frohman presented her in “The Catch of the Season,” which she was. May then married for a second time and retired from the stage. When her husband died in 1917 she made a silent picture that was loosely based on “The Belle of New York.” She donated her entire salary to charity. She made sporadic returns to the West End and on Broadway in “Cornered” in 1920 and “Babbling Brooks” in 1927. She died in January 1948 at the age of 68.

I do things quite systematically. In the first place, there is my work at the theatre, the evening performances and the matinees. Then I have continued steadily with vocal lessons and practice regularly everyday. So much for the actual cultivation of the voice. Then I take three fencing lessons a week.” ~ Edna May 

September 1 - Carolee Carmello

Carolee Carmello was born in Albany, New York, in 1962. She made her Broadway debut as an ensemble member of “City of Angels” in 1989. She eventually took over the role(s) of Oolie and Donna originally played by Randy Graff. In 1992 she was Cordelia, one of the ‘lesbians next door’ in “Falsettos.” She took over the role of Abigail Adams in the 1997 revival of “1776.” Two years later she found herself back in an 18th century-set musical as a replacement in “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” She earned a Drama Desk Award and a Tony nomination originating the role of Lucille Frank in “Parade” at the Vivian Beaumont. From there she returned to replacement work for some of Broadway’s leading musical theatre roles: Lilli / Katherine in “Kiss Me Kate,” Penelope Pennywise in “Urinetown,” and Donna Sheridan in “Mamma Mia!” She returned to originating roles in the vampire musical “Lestat” in 2006. Although she earned Tony and Drama Desk nominations for her work, the show was a critical failure. Her next original role was another critical failure, but proved a popular success: straight-laced Alice Beineke in “The Addams Family.” She returned to replacement work in another screen to stage transfer, “Sister Act the Musical” playing the Mother Superior. Her most recent Broadway musical was Kathi Lee Gifford’s “Scandalous” which lasted just 29 performances but managed to earn Tony and Drama Desk nominations for Carmello as Aimee Semple McPherson. She has also done many regional theatre productions and appeared on the small screen. She is married to actor Gregg Edelman (also from “City of Angels”). They have two children and live in Leonia, New Jersey.  

with Brent Carver in “Parade” (1998)

August 31 - Frederic March

Happy Broadway Birthday to Frederic March!

Frederic March (nee Ernest Frederick McIntyre Bickel) was born in Racine, Wisconsin, in 1897. He studied at the University of Wisconsin and started a career in banking and finance before health issues made him re-evaluate his choice. He moved to New York City and began doing small roles in films in 1921. Before he earned screen credits in 1929, he did five plays on Broadway: “The Melody Man” (1924), “Puppets” (1925), “Harvest” (1925), “The Half-Caste” (1926), and “Devil in the Cheese” (1926) which also featured Bela Lugosi. He was absent from Broadway for the next dozen years making 40 films in Hollywood, including “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in 1931, winning an Oscar for the dual role. He returned to the Rialto with “Yr. Obedient Husband” which only managed a week in 1938 but George S. Kaufman’s “The American Way” fared better, being brought back for a return engagement. In the 1940s he bounced between Broadway and Hollywood with stage projects like “The Skin of Our Teeth” by Thornton Wilder. Paul Osborne’s “A Bell for Adano” was equally successful in 1944 as was “Years Ago” penned by Ruth Gordon and staged by her husband Garsin Kanin. He won the Tony Award for his role. The 1950s saw him in “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” directed by Hume Cronyn, a revival of Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People,” Lillian Hellman’s “The Autumn Garden,” and a revival of O’Neil’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” that won him his second Tony. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, he won a second Oscar for 1947’s “The Best Years of Our Lives” and was nominated for a fifth time for the film version of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” His final appearance on the Great White Way was in Paddy Cheyefsky’s “Gideon” in 1961. The successful run earned him another Tony nomination. He did a half-dozen more screen projects before his death in 1975. He was married to character actress Florence Eldridge from 1927 until his death. They had two children.

I think it’s almost physically impossible to give a well-rounded performance without knowing it beforehand. To try and rehearse eight hours a day and then go home at night and knock more lines into your head— it just doesn’t work. You know it first, then try to polish as you go along.” ~ Frederic March 

March in “A Bell for Adano” (1944)

August 30 - William Duell

Happy Broadway Birthday to William Duell!

George William Duell was born in Corinth, New York, in 1923. His mother changed his first name from George to Darwin, although he never used either professionally. He attended Green Mountain College in Vermont, where he began acting, playing a detective, in “Arsenic and Old Lace.” He was a Navy medic during World War II, and finished his undergraduate career at Illinois Wesleyan University earning a master’s degree from Yale School of Drama. He made his off-Broadway debut in the famous 1954 production of “Threepenny Opera” that starred Bea Arthur, Lotte Lenya, Charlotte Rae, Paul Dooley, and John Astin. The show was so popular it was brought back the following year with a slightly different cast. In 1956 he started acting on television and came to Broadway in 1961 with “A Cook for Mr. General” which ran just 28 performances at the Playhouse Theatre. That same year, his friend Paul Newman got him an uncredited role as a pool player in “The Hustler.” Two years later he was in “The Ballad of Sad Cafe” playing a small role and understudying a larger one. The play starred Colleen Dewhurst and Roscoe Lee Brown. He returned to musical in 1967 with “Ilya Darling,” a musical version of the hit film “Never on Sunday.” In 1969 he was featured as Congressional Custodian Andrew McNair in “1776.” He repeated the role in the 1972 film version. When the show was revived in 1997, Duell stepped into the role of Congress’s elder statesman, Caesar Rodney, when the original performer assumed the leading role of John Adams. He returned to “Threepenny Opera” in 1976 at the Vivian Beaumont with Raul Julia in the role of Macheath. He appeared alongside Jack Warden, Philip Bosco, Tom Aldredge, and Max Wright in the one-night-wonder “Stages” which closed on opening night at the Belasco in 1978. He quickly went into a Circle-in-the-Square revival of “The Inspector General” that took him through Thanksgiving 1978. Eight years later he was back at the same venue with a non-musical version of “The Marriage of Figaro.” Eleven years later he returned to the Great White Way in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” He played Erronius, a befuddled old man searching Rome for his children. His final Broadway show was the 2000 Roundabout revival of “The Man Who Came To Dinner.” The show was taped for broadcast on PBS and is available on DVR. Again, he was re-teamed with Nathan Lane, who had played Pseudolus in “Forum.” Of his many minor roles on stage, film and TV, he is probably best known for playing of one of the inmates in the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 1975. His final screen appearance was “How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days” in 2003. In 2004, at the age of 81, he married for the first time. He died at his home in New York City at the age of 88. Green Mountain has dedicated a scholarship in his name.  

with Mark Linn-Baker (left) and Nathan Lane (right) in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” (1996)

August 29 - Lea Michele

Happy Broadway Birthday to Lea Michele!

Lea Michele Sarfati was born in 1987 in the Bronx, New York, although her parents moved to Tenafly, New Jersey, when she was four. She made her Broadway debut at the age of eight as replacement / alternate for the role of Young Cosette and Young Eponine in “Les Miserables.” She also understudied the role of Gavroche. From there she went to Toronto where she played the role of the Little Girl (Tateh’s Daughter) in “Ragtime,” which moved to Broadway in 1997. She played another Jewish girl in the 2004 revival of “Fiddler on the Roof” as Tevye’s daughter Shprintze and understudy for Chava. Despite her busy stage schedule, she also graduated from Tenefly High School that same year. Michele was involved in early workshops of the musical “Spring Awakening” and eventually played the leading role of Wendla when the show moved to Broadway in 2006, earning a Drama Desk nomination. In 2008 TV producer and director Ryan Murphy created the role of Rachel Berry in “Glee” specifically for Michele. She has been nominated for an Emmy and two Golden Globes and continues in the role today. She has been rumored for a Broadway revival of “Funny Girl,” a role in “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” as well as the movie musical of “Wicked” - but all are still merely rumors. 

I think it’s important in this industry to not just conform to what people want you to do, and instead stand by what you believe in - that’s something I’m very passionate about.” ~ Lea Michele 

with Jonathan Groff in “Spring Awakening” (2006)

August 28 - Sam Levene

Happy Broadway Birthday to Sam Levene!

Sam Levene (nee Samuel Levine) was born in Russia in 1905. His family immigrated to America when he was two. He initially worked as a dress cutter but desperately wanted a promotion to salesman. In order to improve his people skills for selling he auditioned for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Surprisingly, he was granted full scholarship and never returned to the garment industry. He made his Broadway debut in 1927 with “Wall Street” at the Hudson Theatre. The following year he appeared in “Jarnegan” which was the debut of Joan Bennett. It ran 126 performances at the Longacre. He left the show two months into the run to appear in “Tin Pan Alley” which did not out run “Jarnegan.” A full year later he was in “Headquarters” which closed shop after just two weeks at the Forrest. A few months later he did a week in “This Man’s Town” opposite Constance Cummings at the Ritz before stepping into the long-running “Street Scene” by Elmer Rice. He did the same with the comedy “The Up and Up,” also in 1930. In 1931 he was seen in “Three Times the Hour” and “Wonder Boy.” The following year he scored a hit in Kaufman and Ferber’s “Dinner at Eight.” In 1934 he went from “Yellow Jack” to replacement in “The Milky Way” and finished the year in “Spring Song.” The phenomenal hit “Three Men on a Horse” featured Levene with Shirley Booth and Garsin Kanin. Staged by George Abbott, it ran a massive 835 performances at two Broadway stages. He repeated his stage role in the 1936 film version. Abbott also staged “Room Service” for a 500 performance run on Broadway starring Eddie Albert. The Marx Brothers turned the play into a famous film a few years later. At the end of 1939 he was in “Margin for Error” with Otto Preminger, who also directed. He made a brief stop in “The Sound of Hunting” with Burt Lancaster in 1945 before creating the role of Sidney Black in Moss Hart’s theatrical satire “Light Up the Sky.” Despite his lack of musical skills, he originated the role of Nathan Detroit in the first production of “Guys and Dolls” in 1950. Composer Frank Loesser wrote his only song “Sue Me” in a key that even a non-singer could manage. He made his Broadway directing debut in 1956 with “The Hot Corner,” in which he also starred. It closed after just five performances. He finished out the 1950s with three long runs: “Fair Game,” “Make a Million” and “Heartbreak House.” After productions of “The Good Soup” and “The Devil’s Advocate” (Tony nomination) he returned to musical theatre with “Let it Ride!” It was not as successful as his previous attempt. A longer run in “Seidman and Son” followed, only to be involved in the massive flop “Cafe Crown,” which shut its cafe doors after three sittings. Also in 1964 he was on the couch in Saul Bellow’s “The Last Analysis.” He was a replacement in the long-running “The Impossible Years” before playing the title role in another three performance bomb “Nathan Weinstein, Mystic, Connecticut.” In 1969 he joined Abbott in a revival of “Three Men on a Horse” with Dorothy Loudon in Booth’s role. Molly Picon and Levene were in the troubled “Paris is Out!” which had it’s official opening postponed until critics were told they could just release their reviews. He was on of the original “Sunshine Boys” in Neil Simon’s beloved salute to vaudevillians playing opposite Jack Albertson. In 1975 Kanin staged “Dreyfus in Rehearsal” which closed in time for him to join the cast of Ellis Rabb’s revival of “The Royal Family” also starring Rosemary Harris and George Grizzard. The production was filmed for PBS and is still available on DVD. Five years later he made his final appearance on the Great White Way in 1980’s “Horowitz and Mrs. Washington.” He was Horowitz and Esther Rolle Mrs. Washington. It only lasted six performances at the Golden. Levene started doing films in 1929 and continued throughout his career. His final film was “…And Justice for All” starring Al Pacino in 1979. Levene died in December 1980 of a heart attack.  

August 27 - Sam S. Shubert

Happy Broadway Birthday to Sam S. Shubert!

Samuel S. Shubert was born in Vladislavov, Poland (then part of the Russian empire) in 1878. His family emigrated to the United States in 1881 settling in upstate New York. He started out shining shoes as a child in order to help out his family. He eventually got a job in the box office of the Syracuse Opera House. From there he grew interested in becoming a producer, so with borrowed money, he and his two brothers (Lee and J.J.) they were soon running several large theatres in the area. In 1900 Sam and Lee moved to New York City and invested in their first venue, the Herald Square Theatre on 35th and Broadway, which had opened in 1883 as the New Park Theatre. Their first venture at their newly leased location was “The Cadet Girl.” It was followed that year by “Arizona” and “The Girl Up There.” For their next offering, a farce called “The Brixton Burglary,” Shubert and his brother also acted as producers, inaugurating one of the most successful producing partnerships in history. They produced one more show at the Herald Square (“Beaucaire” in 1902) before leasing their second venue, the Casino Theatre, four blocks north. The show was called “A Chinese Honeymoon” and it ran a remarkable 364 performances. Around that time they also took over the Princess Theatre and began performances there with “The Night of the Party” while Arthur Sullivan’s “The Emerald Isle” played the Herald Square. 1902 also saw their first foray into Shakespeare with “Julius Caesar” at the Herald Square while a German drama called “Heidelberg” played the Princess. With and without Lee, Sam produced four shows in 1903, including the first at a non-Shubert venue, “The Girl from Dixie” at Hoyt’s Theatre. He is credited with ‘directing’ the 1904 Asian-themed operetta “Wang” and the following year ghost-wrote the libretto for “Fantana” - another Asian-themed operetta that premiered at the Lyic. Also at the Lyric he produced the drama “Taps” and joined with Lee to produce “Lady Teazle” at the Casino, both in 1904. Sam returned to the classics producing at repertory of “The Taming of the Shrew” and “The School for Scandal” at the Liberty on 42nd Street in February 1905. Tragedy struck the following month when Sam was killed in a train crash outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He was just 26 years old. The Shubert empire continued to grow and in 1913, they named their flagship venue in the heart of the theatre district after him. It remains so today. In 1945, the Majestic Theatre in Chicago was also named in his honor.  

August 26 - Michael Jeter

Happy Broadway Birthday to Michael Jeter!

Michael Jeter was born in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, in 1952. His father was a dentist, so he studied medicine at Memphis State University but soon switched to acting. He performed in and around Memphis until finally leaving for Baltimore, and eventually New York City. He did two shows at the New York Public Theatre in 1978 before making his Broadway debut in Circle-in-the-Square’s revival of “Once in a Lifetime” that same year. That was quickly followed by “G.R. Point,” a play about Vietnam that ran at the Playhouse Theatre for 32 performances the following year. He was honored with a Theatre World Award for his performance. He returned to the Public in 1980 before being cast by Tommy Tune to be in “Cloud 9” off-Broadway in 1981. His feature film career began in 1979 with “Hair.” Many TV and film appearances followed before he was asked by Tune to return to Broadway in his staging of “Grand Hotel” in 1988. Jeter was honored with a Tony Award for his portrayal of dying Otto Kringelein. He returned to screen work, appearing in such hits as “The Fisher King” (1991), “Drop Zone” (1994) and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (1998). He was a series regular on TV’s “Evening Shade” from 1990 to 1994 and worked extensively with “Sesame Street” as well as voice work for “The Wild Thornberrys.” Jeter revealed his HIV positive status to “Entertainment Tonight” before it could be discovered by the tabloids. He died in 2003.

“I often see myself in my private life as being a pinched and confined person. When I get on the stage I can open up.” ~ Michael Jeter 

with the cast of “Grand Hotel” (1998)

August 25 - Anthony Heald

Happy Broadway Birthday to Anthony Heald!

Philip Anthony Mair Heald was born in New Rochelle, New York, in 1944. He graduated from Michigan State University in 1971 but made his off-Broadway debut at the age of 20 in 1964. From 1981 to 1982 he performed in four plays for Roundabout off-Broadway. His Broadway debut was in Beth Henley’s “The Wake of Jamey Foster” which transferred from Hartford but only played 12 performances at the Eugene O’Neill. Although he had done a TV film in 1973, his screen career started in earnest in 1983 with a small role in “Silkwood” starring Meryl Streep. In 1985 he won an Obie Award for Performance in three off-Broadway plays, “Henry V,” “Digby” and (most notably) “The Foreigner.” That year he appeared at Circle-in-the-Square in the non-musical play “The Marriage of Figaro.” In 1987 he played Evelyn Oakleigh in Lincoln Center’s hit revival of “Anything Goes” earning both Tony and Drama Desk nominations for his work. His most recognizable came in the film “The Silence of the Lambs” in 1991 playing Dr. Chilton, nemesis of Hannibal Lechter. Back on Broadway he appeared in Alan Ayckbourn’s “A Small Family Business” at the Music Box. He then continued his association with playwright Terrence McNally in “Love! Valour! Compassion” at the Walter Kerr getting another Tony nomination for his role. Heald was previously seen off-Broadway in both “The Lisbon Traviata” and “Lips Together, Teeth Apart.” Both plays transferred to commercial runs. In 1996 Tony Randall’s National Actors Theatre produced “Inherit the Wind” and Heald was hand-picked by Randall to play Hornbeck, the role Randall played in the original. It was recently announced that he would be part of the cast of the upcoming revival of “The Elephant Man” at the Booth. When not on stage, Heald stays busy on television appearing in both “Boston Legal” and “Boston Public.” He lives in Oregon with his wife, Robin Hershkowitz. They have two children.

with Nathan Lane and and John Benjamin Hickey in “Love! Valour! Compassion!” (1995)

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