Wednesday, May 12, 2010

So Long, Farewell...and Thanks

They say bad things happen in threes, and Broadway isn't immune from that either, apparently.  In just over a week's time the Broadway community has lost three of its shining stars.  On May 2, Lynn Redgrave passed away after a lengthy battle with breast cancer.  Then, on May 9, Lena Horne passed away.  Finally, news came today of the passing of Doris Eaton Travis, who may be least well known of the three, but certainly had the longest career.

Lynn Redgrave, 67

  • 13 Broadway credits, including Shakespeare for My Father, a one-woman play written by her in her father's memory.
  • 3 time Tony Award nominee, most recently in 2006 for her role in The Constant Wife.
  • My personal remembrance of Ms. Redgrave is here.
  • Her most recent New York appearance was at the off-Broadway venue of the Manhattan Theatre Club.  Her play, which she also performed, was called Nightingale, and is currently up for several awards for the season.
  • On May 4, the lights of Broadway were dimmed in her honor.

Lena Horne, 92

  • 5 Broadway credits, including Jamaica and Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music.
  • She was Tony Award nominated in 1957 for Best Actress in a Musical (Jamaica), and she won a 1981 Special Tony Award for her one-woman show.
  • The Lady and Her Music was supposed to run for 4 weeks, but stayed at the Nederlander Theatre for over a year (a recoed for that house, which remained unbroken until RENT).  That show went on to tour the world, and earned Ms. Horne a Grammy Award for the Cast Recording.
  • My grandparents celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary by attending a performance of Jamaica.  My grandfather, generally more interested in the Yankees than a show, often spoke of the performance, and especially of Lena Horne.  "A beautiful gal, with an amazing voice," he often said.
  • On May 11, the lights of Broadway were dimmed in her honor.

Doris Eaton Travis, 106

  • 10 Broadway credits, dating back to 1917, including two runs as a Ziegfeld girl at the New Amsterdam Theatre.
  • At 106, Ms. Travis was one of the oldest living American citizens.  She was one of the last remaining Ziegfeld girls, if not the last.
  • Her final performance on Broadway was two weeks ago, at the Easter Bonnet Competition, an event at which she was a staple.  She will be missed.

All three ladies may have had long, illustrious careers.  All three definitely made their marks, breaking down racial, familial and age barriers, and all three made the world a better place because they were in it.

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