1878 The original Yankee Doodle Dandy, George M. Cohan is born on the 3rd of July, not the 4th as family legend says. A member of the vaudeville team The Four Cohans with his parents and sister, he soon breaks out as a solo star, writer, and producer of such early 20th century hits as American Born, Billie, Dear Old Darling, Little Nellie Kelly, Pigeons and People, The Rise of Rosie O'Reilly, and The Merry Malones. His life becomes the subject of a musical in 1968, George M!, in which he is played by Joel Grey. His statue has stood at the center of Times Square at 46th Street for decades.
1937 Birthday of British playwright Tom Stoppard, four-time winner of the Tony Award for Best Play: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1968), Travesties (1976), The Real Thing (1984), and The Coast of Utopia (2007). His roster of intelligent dramas also includes Arcadia, The Invention of Love, Rock 'n' Roll, and Jumpers.
1947 Betty Buckley, who becomes one of Broadway's leading ladies, is born in Texas. After making her debut in 1776, Buckley wins the 1983 Tony Award for Featured Actress in a Musical for her turn in Cats. Other memorable stage moments include Song and Dance, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Carrie, Sunset Boulevard, and Triumph of Love.
1970 Happy birthday to Audra McDonald, who would go on to win six Tony Awards for acting both in plays and musicals, including Ragtime, Carousel, Master Class, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, and Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill. She also receives Tony nominations for her performances in Marie Christine and a revival of 110 in the Shade. Most recently, McDonald won the Antonyo Award for her performance in Frankie & Johnny and the Clair de Lune and is a member of the founding group of artists behind Black Theatre United.
1999 The Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Cabaret marks its 500th Broadway performance. The production that received four Tony Awards (including Best Revival of a Musical), three Drama Desk Awards, three Outer Critics Circle Awards, a Theatre World Award, an Astaire Award, and a special award from the New York Drama Critics) opened on Broadway March 19, 1998.
2018 The Australian production of the Tony-nominated Best Musical Come From Away opens in Melbourne. The musical by David Hein and Irene Sankoff tells the story of the passengers of 37 planes that were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, Canada, when U.S. air space closed due to the September 11 attacks. The story of the generosity of humanity earned seven Tony nominations, winning for Best Direction by Christopher Ashley.
More of Today's Birthdays: Leon Errol (1881–1951), Alexander Gemignani (b. 1979), Franz Kafka (1883–1924), Leueen MacGrath (1914–1992), Natasha Richardson (1963–2009), David Shire (b. 1937), Patrick Wilson (b. 1973)
Watch Audra McDonald sing "Rainbow High" from Evita at her 2015 Carnegie Hall concert: