Wednesday, April 25, 2007


The legendary George Abbott, who was called "Mr. Broadway" based on his seven decade plus career as an actor, producer, director and author in American Theater. Born in 1887, he wrote his first play in 1910 and continued working on Broadway until 1994, the year before his death at age 107.

He produced the play Damn Yankees in 1955 and brought it back to Broadway for a revival in 1986, when he was 99 years old, and again in a 1994 revival when he continued to give advice to Director Jack O'Brien on revisions to his original book. On opening night of the 1994 revival, he walked down the aisle and received a standing ovation. He was heard saying to his companion, "There must be somebody important here."

Some of his other well-known works included The Boys from Syracuse (1938), Pal Joey (1940), Call Me Madam (1950), Pajama Game (1954) with a 1973 revival.

A native of Salamanca, NY, where his father was mayor, Mr. Abbott obtained a B.A. from the University of Rochester and then attended Harvard where he studied playwriting.

Some of those who worked with Abbott early in their careers included Desi Arnaz, Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, Bob Fosse, Stephen Sondheim and Liza Minelli.

He was married 3 times. His first wife, Ednah died in 1930 after 16 years of marriage. He married again in 1946 and divorced in 1951. He married his last wife, Joy in 1983, when he was 96. In the New York Times obit, Mrs. Abbott was quoted as saying that a week before his death he was dictating revisions to the second act of Pajama Game with a revival in mind.

He won several Tony Awards and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1930 for Best Achievement in Writing (All Quiet on the Western Front).

When he died in 1995, all the lights on Broadway were dimmed in tribute to him.


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