1949: South Pacific Opens on Broadway
It was on this day in 1949 that Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical, South Pacific opened on Broadway. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener, the story featured an American nurse (Mary Martin) who was stationed on a South Pacific island during World War II. The play, which also starred Ezio Pinza, ran for 1,925 performances (the second-longest after Oklahoma!) and it won ten Tony Awards. Perhaps the most memorable song from the show was “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair.” The show has been revived on Broadway several times including 2008’s which ran for 996 performances and won seven more Tonys. (Image: Wikimedia)
1940: The First African American on a U.S. Stamp
Booker Taliaferro Washington was an educator, author, orator, and adviser to multiple presidents of the United States. Washington was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants. On this day in 1940, he became the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.
1967: Roger Ebert Publishes His First Movie Review
It was on this day in 1967 that the new unknown film critic, Roger Ebert, would publish his first review for the Chicago Sun-Times. He would continue to publish his reviews for the paper until his death in 2013. In between the two, he was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1975. Also that year, he teamed up with fellow critic, Gene Siskel for the PBS show Sneak Previews in 1975. It was later changed to At the Movies. Together, they trademarked the phrase “Two Thumbs Up.” In 2005, Ebert was the first film critic to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His final review in the Chicago Sun-Times was for the film To the Wonder.
- 1915: Billie Holiday (singer)
- 1928: James Garner (actor)
- 1939: Fracis Ford Coppola (film director)
- 1948: John Oates (singer)
- 1954: Jackie Chan (stuntman)
- 1964: Russell Crowe (actor)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.