Frank Fay (American actor)
Frank Fay was an American vaudeville comedian and film and stage actor. For a time, a well known and influential star, he fell into obscurity, in part because of his abrasive personality and fascist political views, he is considered an important pioneer in stand-up comedy. He played the role of "Elwood P. Dowd" in the Broadway play Harvey by the American playwright Mary Coyle Chase, he is best known as actress Barbara Stanwyck's first husband. Their troubled marriage is thought by some to be the basis of the 1937 film A Star Is Born, in which the unknown wife shoots to stardom while her husband's career goes into sharp decline. Fay was notorious for his bigotry and alcoholism, according to the American Vaudeville Museum, "even when sober, he was dismissive and unpleasant, he was disliked by most of his contemporaries". Although talented, Fay offended most of the people he worked with because of his enormous ego. Former vaudevillian and radio star Fred Allen remarked, "The last time I saw him he was walking down Lover's Lane, holding his own hand."
Actor Robert Wagner wrote that Fay was "...one of the most dreadful men in the history of show business. Fay was a drunk, an anti-Semite, a wife-beater, Barbara had had to endure all of that", while according to actor and comedian Milton Berle "Fay's friends could be counted on the missing arm of a one-armed man." Berle, Jewish, claimed to have once hit Fay in the face with a stage brace after Fay, on seeing Berle watching his act from offstage, called out, "Get that little Jew bastard out of the wings".. Born as Francis Anthony Donner in San Francisco, California, to Irish Catholic parents, he took the professional name of Frank Fay after concluding that his birth name was not suitable for the stage, he enjoyed considerable success as a variety artist starting around 1918, telling jokes and stories in a planned "off the cuff" manner, original for the time. Jack Benny stated. During the 1920s, Fay was vaudeville's highest-paid headliner; when talkies arrived, Warner Bros. studio was eager to put him under contract along with a host of other famous stage personalities.
Fay was cast as master of ceremonies in Warner Bros.' Most expensive production of 1929, the all-star, all-talking revue The Show of Shows. Based on the success of that film, Fay was signed up for an all-Technicolor musical comedy entitled Under a Texas Moon, in which he displayed his singing abilities; the movie was a boxoffice success and made a hit of the theme song titled "Under a Texas Moon". Fay sang the theme song several times throughout the picture. Another expensive picture, Bright Lights, an extravagant all-Technicolor musical followed. Fay starred in The Matrimonial Bed, a Pre-Code comedy in which he sang the song "Fleur d'Amour" twice. Fay found himself associated with musical films, this led to a decline in his popularity when public interest in musical films began to wane in the late 1930s. In his next film, God's Gift to Women, the musical sequences were cut for the American release, though they were retained for other countries. Fay failed to get the rave reviews he had enjoyed.
He attempted to produce his own picture in 1932 and struck a deal with Warner Bros. to have them release his film, A Fool's Advice. It failed, resurfaced five years as Meet the Mayor, with new titles prepared by the Warner Bros. studio. These new credits reflect the low regard Fay's professional colleagues had for him: his name appears in the smallest possible type as both star and author, with the supporting cast members' names more than twice the size of Fay's. Fay married Barbara Stanwyck in 1928, when she was unknown, he helped her further her career in films, she was given a contract by Warner Bros. late in 1930. Their only film appearance together was a brief skit in the short film The Stolen Jools, they adopted a son, Dion, on December 5, 1932. The marriage soured when Fay's career was eclipsed by Stanwyck's success, they divorced in 1935. Fay's Broadway talent and early success in talkies with his pre-Code risque humor did not bode well with the rising conservative movement ushered in by the Great Depression.
Fay played in a series of films in which he was cast as a debonair lover, irresistible to women, that threw in suggestive jokes. He was successful as a revue and nightclub comedian and master of ceremonies and appeared on radio shows, he was cast in a bit part as master of ceremonies in the night club sequence of Nothing Sacred. As late as the 1950s, one of his most enduring routines was taking a popular song and analysing the "senseless" lyrics, for example "Tea for Two": ""Picture you, upon my knee." "Just tea for two and two for tea, me for you, you for me, alone" So, here's the situation: the guy just has one chair, but enough tea for two, so he has two for tea. If anyone else shows up, he shoots'em! "Nobody near us, to see us or hear us." Who'd want to listen to a couple of people drinking tea?"We won't have it known, that we own a telephone." So, this guy's too cheap to get another chair, he has a telephone, but won't tell anyone about it!"Dawn will break, you'll awake, start to bake a sugar cake."
Oh, this poor woman's life, I can see it now. Dawn breaks, she's got to start baking, can't run a brush through her hair, down in the dark, feeling around for the flour..."For me to take for all the guys to see." I can see that! "Hey, guys, I've got something the wife gave me!" Is it a new tie? Is it a
Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond is a British fictional character, created by H. C. McNeile and published under his pen name "Sapper". Following McNeile's death in 1937, the novels were continued by Gerard Fairlie. Drummond is a World War I veteran who, fed up with his sedate lifestyle, advertises looking for excitement, becomes a gentleman adventurer; the character has appeared in novels, short stories, on the stage, in films, on radio and television, in graphic novels. After an unsuccessful one-off appearance as a policeman in The Strand Magazine, the character was reworked by McNeile into a gentleman adventurer for his 1920 novel Bulldog Drummond. McNeile went on to write ten Drummond novels, four short stories, four stage plays and a screenplay before his death in 1937; the stories were continued by his friend Gerard Fairlie between 1938 and 1954. Drummond is a First World War veteran, brutalised by his experiences in the trenches and bored with his post-war lifestyle, he publishes an advertisement looking for adventure, soon finds himself embroiled in a series of exploits, many of which involve Carl Peterson—who becomes his nemesis—and Peterson's mistress, the femme fatale, Irma.
After his first adventure, Drummond marries Phyllis Benton. In episodes, Bention becomes involved in Drummond's exploits as the victim of kidnapping by Drummond's enemies. In 1921, an adaptation of the first novel was staged in London, with Gerald du Maurier playing the role of Drummond. Several other Drummond films have followed, either based on McNeile's stories or with unique storylines; the Bulldog Drummond stories of H. C. McNeile follow Captain Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond, DSO, MC. Drummond is a member of "the Breed", a class of Englishman who were patriotic, loyal and "physically and morally intrepid". Drummond is a wealthy gentleman an officer in the fictional "Royal Loamshire Regiment", after the First World War, spends his new-found leisure time looking for adventure. McNeile first wrote the Drummond character as a detective for a short story in The Strand Magazine, but the portrayal was not successful and was changed for the novel Bull-dog Drummond, a thriller; the character was an amalgam of McNeile's friend Gerard Fairlie, his idea of an English gentleman, although writer J.
D. Bourn disputes Fairlie's claim to be a model for the character, noting that "he was still at school when Sapper created his... hero". Drummond had roots in the literary characters Sherlock Holmes, Sexton Blake, Richard Hannay and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Drummond's wartime experience had given him a series of abilities akin to that of a hunter: stealth—"he could move over ground without a single blade of grass rustling"—and the ability to incapacitate others—"he could kill a man with his bare hands in a second". During his time on the Western Front he would take himself on solitary raids through no man's land. Drummond was proficient in jujutsu and boxing, was a crack shot, played cricket for the Free Foresters, was an excellent poker player. In addition to Drummond's physical attributes is his common sense, which allows him to equal and beat his opponents if they have a superior intellect. Drummond is characterised as large strong, physically unattractive and an "apparently brainless hunk of a man", He is six feet tall, weighs around 14 stone, has a "cheerful type of ugliness which inspires immediate confidence in its owner".
Throughout his exploits, Drummond is joined by several of his ex-army friends and colleagues, including Algy Longworth, MC. Dummond's ex-batman from his military days, James Denny, runs Drummond's flat on Half-Moon Street in Mayfair, along with Mrs Denny. Drummond is a gentleman with a private income; the novel Bulldog Drummond begins when Drummond places an advertisement in a newspaper looking for adventure to lift the ennui of his life in post-war London. The response comes from Phyllis Benton, concerned for the health and well-being of her father, over whom Henry Lakington and Carl Peterson have a hold. At the end of the novel Drummond and Phyllis marry, remain married throughout the course of the McNeile and Fairlie series of books, in contrast to the films, which portray Drummond as unmarried. Phyllis becomes integral to the plot of some of the novels: she is kidnapped by Irma Peterson in several stories, including The Black Gang and The Female of the Species. In the matter of his personal tastes, Drummond is a member of the fictional Junior Sports Club, a gentleman's club on St. James's Square, London.
His preferred drink is beer although he enjoys drinking martinis and is knowledgeable about wines. Drummond owns both a Bentley. Although Drummond's actions are intended to maintain the conservative status quo of Britain, academic Hans Bertens considers that instead, he comes across as "a murderous exponent of a fierce competitive individualism"; the first four books deal with Drummond against Carl Peterson. Peterson is a master of disguise and uses several aliases. Peterson is killed in the fourth book, The Final Count, although Fairlie brings him back for his final novel, The Return of the Black
Broadway Babies, aka Broadway Daddies and Ragazze d'America, is a 1929 all-talking Pre-Code black and white American musical film produced and distributed by First National Pictures, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers. The film was directed by starred Alice White and Charles Delaney; this was White's first sound film with dialogue. Chorus girl Delight "Dee" Foster is in love with stage manager Billy Buvanny and he loves her, they plan to marry until bootlegger Perc Gessant steps in. Dee is led to believe that Billy is in love with another girl, so she agrees to play around with Gessant when he becomes interested in her; when Gessant proposes marriage, Dee accepts. As they are about to be married, rival gangsters shoot. Dee is reconciled with Billy and they become engaged. Alice White as Delight "Dee" Foster Marion Byron as Florine Chanler Sally Eilers as Navarre King Charles Delaney as Billy Buvanny Tom Dugan as Scotty Bodil Rosing as Sarah Durgan Maurice Black as Nick Stepanos Fred Kohler as Perc Gessant Louis Natheaux as August'Gus' Brand Lew Harvey as Joe, one of the poker players Aggie Herring as Landlady Al Hill as One of Perc's henchmen Armand Kaliz as Tony Ginetti, the nightclub manager Broadway Babies was one of the many movie musicals with a Broadway setting that were made at the dawn of the "talkie" era.
Such films were called "backstagers", a vogue that evolved during the emergence of sound pictures and from the success of The Jazz Singer and The Singing Fool, both Warner Bros.' films. Broadway Babies was one of a number of similar vehicles created for Alice White. Three songs were written for White to perform in Broadway Babies: "Wishing and Waiting for Love" with lyrics by Grant Clarke and music by Harry Akst. Incidental music included "Give My Regards to Broadway", "Vesti La Giubba", "Bridal Chorus". Only sound version of Broadway Babies survives as a 16mm reduction positive in the Library of Congress collection; the film's trailer survives incomplete. Broadway Babies at the American Film Institute Catalog Broadway Babies on IMDb Broadway Babies at the TCM Movie Database Broadway Babies at AllMovie Broadway Babies at the British Film Institute
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby was an American singer and actor. The first multimedia star, Crosby was a leader in record sales, radio ratings, motion picture grosses from 1931 to 1954, his early career coincided with recording innovations that allowed him to develop an intimate singing style that influenced many male singers who followed him, including Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, Dean Martin. Yank magazine said that he was "the person who had done the most for the morale of overseas servicemen" during World War II. In 1948, American polls declared him the "most admired man alive", ahead of Jackie Robinson and Pope Pius XII. In 1948, Music Digest estimated that his recordings filled more than half of the 80,000 weekly hours allocated to recorded radio music. Crosby won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Father Chuck O'Malley in the 1944 motion picture Going My Way and was nominated for his reprise of the role in The Bells of St. Mary's opposite Ingrid Bergman the next year, becoming the first of six actors to be nominated twice for playing the same character.
In 1963, Crosby received the first Grammy Global Achievement Award. He is one of 33 people to have three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in the categories of motion pictures and audio recording, he was known for his collaborations with longtime friend Bob Hope, starring in the Road to... films from 1940 to 1962. Crosby influenced the development of the postwar recording industry. After seeing a demonstration of a German broadcast quality reel-to-reel tape recorder brought to America by John T. Mullin, he invested $50,000 in a California electronics company called Ampex to build copies, he convinced ABC to allow him to tape his shows. He became the first performer to pre-record his radio shows and master his commercial recordings onto magnetic tape. Through the medium of recording, he constructed his radio programs with the same directorial tools and craftsmanship used in motion picture production, a practice that became an industry standard. In addition to his work with early audio tape recording, he helped to finance the development of videotape, bought television stations, bred racehorses, co-owned the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team.
Crosby was born on May 3, 1903 in Tacoma, Washington, in a house his father built at 1112 North J Street. In 1906, his family moved to Spokane and in 1913, his father built a house at 508 E. Sharp Avenue; the house sits on the campus of Gonzaga University. It functions today as a museum housing over 200 artifacts from his life and career, including his Oscar, he was the fourth of seven children: brothers Laurence Earl, Everett Nathaniel, Edward John, George Robert. His parents were Harry Lowe Crosby, a bookkeeper, Catherine Helen "Kate", his mother was a second generation Irish-American. His father was of English descent. Through another line on his father's side, Crosby is descended from Mayflower passenger William Brewster. On November 8, 1937, after Lux Radio Theatre's adaptation of She Loves Me Not, Joan Blondell asked Crosby how he got his nickname: Crosby: "Well, I'll tell you, back in the knee-britches day, when I was a wee little tyke, a mere broth of a lad, as we say in Spokane, I used to totter around the streets, with a gun on each hip, my favorite after school pastime was a game known as "Cops and Robbers", I didn't care which side I was on, when a cop or robber came into view, I would haul out my trusty six-shooters, made of wood, loudly exclaim bing! bing!, as my luckless victim fell clutching his side, I would shout bing! bing!, I would let him have it again, as his friends came to his rescue, shooting as they came, I would shout bing! bing! bing! bing! bing! bing! bing! bing!"Blondell: "I'm surprised they didn't call you "Killer" Crosby!
Now tell me another story, Grandpa! Crosby: "No, so help me, it's the truth, ask Mister De Mille."De Mille: "I'll vouch for it, Bing."That story was pure whimsy for dramatic effect and the truth is that a neighbor - Valentine Hobart - named him "Bingo from Bingville" after a comic feature in the local paper called "The Bingville Bugle" which the young Harry liked. In time, Bingo got shortened to Bing. In 1917, Crosby took a summer job as property boy at Spokane's "Auditorium," where he witnessed some of the finest acts of the day, including Al Jolson, who held him spellbound with ad libbing and parodies of Hawaiian songs, he described Jolson's delivery as "electric."Crosby graduated from Gonzaga High School in 1920 and enrolled at Gonzaga University. He did not earn a degree; as a freshman, he played on the university's baseball team. The university granted him an honorary doctorate in 1937. Today, Gonzaga University houses a large collection of photographs and other material related to Crosby.
In 1923, Crosby was invited to join a new band composed of high school students a few years younger than himself. Al Rinker, Miles Rinker, James Heaton, Claire Pritchard and Robert Pritchard, along with drummer Crosby, formed the Musicaladers, who performed at dances both for high school students and club-goers; the group disbanded after two years. Crosby and Al Rinker obtained work at the Clemmer Theatre in Spokane. Crosby was a member of a vocal trio called'The Three Harmo
Stand Up and Cheer!
Stand Up and Cheer! is a 1934 American Pre-Code musical film directed by Hamilton MacFadden. The screenplay by Lew Brown and Ralph Spence was based upon a story idea by Will Rogers and Philip Klein; the film is about efforts undertaken during the Great Depression to boost the morale of the country. It is a vehicle for a string of vaudeville acts and a few musical numbers; the film is best known for providing the first big breakthrough role for legendary child actress Shirley Temple. A little known bit player prior to the film, by the end of the year, she would appear in 10 movies, including 4 starring roles in major feature-length films; the President of the United States decides that the true cause of the Great Depression is a loss of "optimism" as a result of a plot by financiers and bankers who are getting rich from the Depression. The President appoints Lawrence Cromwell as secretary for the newly created Department of Amusement. Cromwell sends them out across the country. Much of the action centers around Cromwell auditioning acts in his office (with interruptions from janitor "George Bernard Shaw".
At the end, as a musical production number breaks forth, Cromwell looks out of his office window and sees the Depression instantaneously lift. Warner Baxter as Lawrence Cromwell Madge Evans as Mary Adams Shirley Temple as Shirley Dugan James Dunn as Jimmy Dugan Nigel Bruce as Eustis Dinwiddle Ralph Morgan as Secretary to President Steppin Fetchit as George Bernard Shaw Tess Gardella as Aunt Jemima Scotty Beckett as Auditioning Boy John Boles as Himself Dick Foran as Himself During production the film was known as "Fox Follies"; the most memorable scene in the movie was the song and dance number by Dunn and Temple titled Baby Take a Bow. Temple, signed to a $150/week contract guaranteed for just two weeks while the film was in full production, did not have enough time to learn the dance routine for the film and instead used a routine she learned from Meglin's. Dunn learned the routine from her. In recording the sound track for the song, her voice accidentally cracked on the last note but the producers liked it and kept it in.
Prior to filming the dance routine, she fell while walking in, cutting her head. To remedy this, her mother covered the cut with a spit curl; as filming of the dance number started, Temple's potential became apparent. By the time she was finished, she was brought straight into Fox Film offices and had her contract extended to a year with a seven-year option; the number became so popular, that it would serve as the title to a Temple film of the same name. Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times wrote that the film "often comes close to a conception of what a modern Gilbert and Sullivan opus might be, it is true that there are several intrusive numbers which have little to do with the bright pivotal idea, but they have the virtue of being good entertainment." John Mosher of The New Yorker reviewed it as mediocre, saying it had "a few good numbers and a lot of dreary libretto work." Film Daily reported, "Despite a weakness in construction that has left it with a few air pockets, this musical jamboree has several highlights that will suffice to satisfy the patrons and make them pass the word around."
It added that Shirley Temple "just about steals the show and leaves the customers hungry for more of her." "Richly satiric, the story introduces hilarious types and presents a delightfully mad picture of Washington", wrote the New York Daily Mirror. The New York Herald Tribune wrote that it was "successful neither as musical comedy nor hilarious fantasy, but it must be granted certain pleasant features. Amazingly enough, one of them is a child actress." The New York Daily News wrote that although it "was designed to wipe away our fears and blues over these hard times by insisting that the depression is over, I'm afraid it is going to have just the opposite effect. Little Shirley Temple earned the only burst of spontaneous applause."The film was given a strong endorsement by Variety the work of "newcomer" Shirley Temple, whom they cited as the film's "unofficial star." Although modern scholars point to the film as an example of typical Great Depression entertainment, Variety expressed reservations about its theme.
"This musical is a hodge-podge principally handicapped by a national depression premise. Americans now like to think of themselves in the light of being on the upturn and having rounded that long-awaited corner, so Cheer's plot motivation is questionable open to debate." The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists: 2006: AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers – Nominated The film premiered April 19, 1934 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film was a box office disappointment for Fox. Eleven minutes of footage were deleted for most of it racial in nature. In 2009, the film was available on both videocassette and DVD in the original black-and-white version and a computer-colorized version of the original; some versions included other special features. The polka-dot dress worn by Shirley Temple in her song and dance number with Dunn served as the model of the dress used on the first Shirley Temple dolls made by toy manufacturer Ideal in 1934. In 1958, Temple's television show, Shirley Temple's Storybook went into production.
At that time, she persuaded various manufacturers to release ancillary merchandise including the Baby Take a Bow polka-dot dress. Edwards, Shirley Temple: American Princess, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. Stand Up and Cheer! on IMDb Stand Up and Cheer! at the TCM Movie Database Stand Up and Chee
Thomas Wright "Fats" Waller was an American jazz pianist, composer and comedic entertainer. His innovations in the Harlem stride style laid the groundwork for modern jazz piano, his best-known compositions, "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Honeysuckle Rose", were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1984 and 1999. Waller was the youngest of 11 children born to Adeline Locket Waller, a musician, the Reverend Edward Martin Waller in New York City, he started playing the piano when he was six and graduated to playing the organ at his father's church four years later. His mother instructed him in his youth, he attended other music lessons, paying for them by working in a grocery store. Waller attended DeWitt Clinton High School for one semester, but left school at 15 to work as an organist at the Lincoln Theater in Harlem, where he earned $32 a week. Within 12 months he had composed his first rag, he was the prize pupil and the friend and colleague of the stride pianist James P. Johnson. Waller's first recordings, "Muscle Shoals Blues" and "Birmingham Blues", were made in October 1922 for Okeh Records.
That year, he made his first player piano roll, "Got to Cool My Doggies Now." Waller's first published composition, "Squeeze Me," was published in 1924. Waller became one of the most popular performers of his era, finding critical and commercial success in the United States and Europe, he was a prolific songwriter, many songs he wrote or co-wrote are still popular, such as "Honeysuckle Rose", "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Squeeze Me". Fellow pianist and composer Oscar Levant dubbed Waller "the black Horowitz". Waller is believed to have composed many novelty tunes in the 1920s and 1930s and sold them for small sums, attributed to another composer and lyricist. Standards attributed to Waller, sometimes controversially, include "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby"; the song was made famous by Adelaide Hall in the broadway show Blackbirds of 1928 Biographer Barry Singer conjectured that this jazz classic was written by Waller and lyricist Andy Razaf and provided a description of the sale given by Waller to the New York Post in 1929—he sold the song for $500 to a white songwriter for use in a financially successful show.
He further supports the conjecture, noting that early handwritten manuscripts in the Dana Library Institute of Jazz Studies of "Spreadin' Rhythm Around" are in Waller's hand. Jazz historian Paul S. Machlin comments that the Singer conjecture has "considerable justification". Waller's son Maurice wrote in his 1977 biography of his father that Waller had once complained on hearing the song, came from upstairs to admonish him never to play it in his hearing because he had had to sell it when he needed money. Maurice Waller's biography notes his father's objections to hearing "On the Sunny Side of the Street" playing on the radio. Waller recorded "I Can't Give You..." in 1938, making fun of the lyrics. The anonymous sleeve notes on the 1960 RCA Victor album Handful of Keys state that Waller copyrighted over 400 songs, many of them co-written with his closest collaborator, Andy Razaf. Razaf described his partner as "the soul of melody... a man who made the piano sing... both big in body and in mind... known for his generosity... a bubbling bundle of joy".
Gene Sedric, a clarinetist who played with Waller on some of his 1930s recordings, is quoted in these sleeve notes recalling Waller's recording technique with considerable admiration: "Fats was the most relaxed man I saw in a studio, so he made everybody else relaxed. After a balance had been taken, we'd just need one take to make a side, unless it was a kind of difficult number." Waller played with many performers, from Nathaniel Shilkret and Gene Austin to Erskine Tate, Fletcher Henderson, McKinney's Cotton Pickers and Adelaide Hall, but his greatest success came with his own five- or six-piece combo, "Fats Waller and his Rhythm". On one occasion his playing seemed to have put him at risk of injury. Waller was kidnapped in Chicago leaving a performance in 1926. Four men bundled him into a car and took him to the Hawthorne Inn, owned by Al Capone. Waller was ordered inside the building, found a party in full swing. Gun to his back, he was pushed towards a piano, told to play. A terrified Waller realized he was the "surprise guest" at Capone's birthday party, took comfort that the gangsters did not intend to kill him.
It is rumored that Waller stayed at the Hawthorne Inn for three days and left drunk tired, had earned thousands of dollars in cash from Capone and other party-goers as tips. In 1926, Waller began his recording association with the Victor Talking Machine Company/RCA Victor, his principal record company for the rest of his life, with the organ solos "St. Louis Blues" and his own composition, "Lenox Avenue Blues". Although he recorded with various groups, including Morris's Hot Babes, Fats Waller's Buddies, McKinney's Cotton Pickers, his most important contribution to the Harlem stride piano tradition was a series of solo recordings of his own compositions: "Handful of Keys", "Smashing Thirds", "Numb Fumblin'", "Valentine Stomp". After sessions with Ted Lewis, Jack Teagarden and Billy Banks' Rhythmakers, he began in May 1934 the voluminous series of recordings with a small band known as Fats Waller and his Rhythm; this six-piece group usually
Broadway theatre known as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world; the Theater District is a popular tourist attraction in New York City. According to The Broadway League, for the 2017–2018 season total attendance was 13,792,614 and Broadway shows had US$1,697,458,795 in grosses, with attendance up 3.9%, grosses up 17.1%, playing weeks up 2.8%. The majority of Broadway shows are musicals. Historian Martin Shefter argues that "'Broadway musicals', culminating in the productions of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, became enormously influential forms of American popular culture" and contributed to making New York City the cultural capital of the Western Hemisphere.
New York did not have a significant theatre presence until about 1750, when actor-managers Walter Murray and Thomas Kean established a resident theatre company at the Theatre on Nassau Street, which held about 280 people. They presented Shakespeare ballad operas such as The Beggar's Opera. In 1752, William Hallam sent a company of twelve actors from Britain to the colonies with his brother Lewis as their manager, they established a theatre in Williamsburg and opened with The Merchant of Venice and The Anatomist. The company moved to New York in the summer of 1753, performing ballad operas and ballad-farces like Damon and Phillida; the Revolutionary War suspended theatre in New York, but thereafter theatre resumed in 1798, the year the 2,000-seat Park Theatre was built on Chatham Street. The Bowery Theatre opened followed by others. By the 1840s, P. T. Barnum was operating an entertainment complex in Lower Manhattan. In 1829, at Broadway and Prince Street, Niblo's Garden opened and soon became one of New York's premiere nightspots.
The 3,000-seat theatre presented all sorts of non-musical entertainments. In 1844, Palmo's Opera House opened and presented opera for only four seasons before bankruptcy led to its rebranding as a venue for plays under the name Burton's Theatre; the Astor Opera House opened in 1847. A riot broke out in 1849 when the lower-class patrons of the Bowery objected to what they perceived as snobbery by the upper class audiences at Astor Place: "After the Astor Place Riot of 1849, entertainment in New York City was divided along class lines: opera was chiefly for the upper middle and upper classes, minstrel shows and melodramas for the middle class, variety shows in concert saloons for men of the working class and the slumming middle class."The plays of William Shakespeare were performed on the Broadway stage during the period, most notably by American actor Edwin Booth, internationally known for his performance as Hamlet. Booth played the role for a famous 100 consecutive performances at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1865, would revive the role at his own Booth's Theatre.
Other renowned Shakespeareans who appeared in New York in this era were Henry Irving, Tommaso Salvini, Fanny Davenport, Charles Fechter. Theatre in New York moved from downtown to midtown beginning around 1850, seeking less expensive real estate. In the beginning of the 19th century, the area that now comprises the Theater District was owned by a handful of families and comprised a few farms. In 1836, Mayor Cornelius Lawrence opened 42nd Street and invited Manhattanites to "enjoy the pure clean air." Close to 60 years theatrical entrepreneur Oscar Hammerstein I built the iconic Victoria Theater on West 42nd Street. Broadway's first "long-run" musical was a 50-performance hit called The Elves in 1857. In 1870, the heart of Broadway was in Union Square, by the end of the century, many theatres were near Madison Square. Theatres did not arrive in the Times Square area until the early 1900s, the Broadway theatres did not consolidate there until a large number of theatres were built around the square in the 1920s and 1930s.
New York runs continued to lag far behind those in London, but Laura Keene's "musical burletta" The Seven Sisters shattered previous New York records with a run of 253 performances. It was at a performance by Keene's troupe of Our American Cousin in Washington, D. C. that Abraham Lincoln was shot. The first theatre piece that conforms to the modern conception of a musical, adding dance and original music that helped to tell the story, is considered to be The Black Crook, which premiered in New York on September 12, 1866; the production was five-and-a-half hours long, but despite its length, it ran for a record-breaking 474 performances. The same year, The Black Domino/Between You, Me and the Post was the first show to call itself a "musical comedy". Tony Pastor opened the first vaudeville theatre one block east of Union Square in 1881, where Lillian Russell performed. Comedians Edward Harrigan and Tony Hart produced and starred in musicals on Broadway between 1878 and 1890, with book and lyrics by Harrigan and music by his father-in-law David Braham.
These musical comedies featured characters and situations taken from the everyday life of New York's lower classes and represented a significant step forward from vaudeville and burlesque, towards a more literate form. They starred high quality singers, instead of the women of questionable repute who had starred in earlier m