1838 John Wilkes Booth, perhaps the most infamous actor in American history, is born. The son of actor Junius Brutus Booth, and brother of actors Junius Brutus Booth Jr. and Edwin Booth, he appears with his brothers in a special November 1864 production of Shakespeare's assassination tragedy, Julius Caesar, with Edwin as Brutus, Junius as Cassius, and John Wilkes as Marc Anthony. Five months later, John assassinates President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre. In 1991, he becomes a character in the Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman musical, Assassins.
1899 Fred Astaire is born in Omaha, Nebraska. Along with his sister Adele Astaire, who is two years older, they become a popular vaudeville act and are later featured in such shows as Lady, Be Good and Funny Face. After Adele retires, Fred appears opposite Claire Luce in the 1932 musical Gay Divorce. This is his last Broadway appearance. Fred moves on to Hollywood.
1961 A group of unknowns—Dudley Moore, Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller, and Alan Bennett—bring their comic revue Beyond the Fringe to London's Fortune Theatre. It runs for 1,184 performances. Even though the show mocks the Prime Minister, the normally censorious Lord Chamberlain attends the evening as part of the Queen's party.
1978 Fred Gwynne and Frances Sternhagen star in the Broadway musical Angel, based on Ketti Frings' Pulitzer Prize-winning adaptation of Thomas Wolfe's novel Look Homeward, Angel. It plays a brief run at the Minskoff Theatre, for which Sternhagen earns a Tony nomination.
2006 After a lengthy preview period that began March 24, Disney's fourth Broadway offering, Tarzan—following Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Aida—opens at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Featuring direction and scenic design by Bob Crowley and a score by Phil Collins, the musical stars Josh Strickland in the title role opposite Jenn Gambatese as Jane.
More of Today's Birthdays: Max Steiner (1888-1971), Dimitri Tiomkin (1899-1979), Nancy Walker (1922-1992), Philip Cusack (1934-2013), Jo Henderson (1934-1988), Arthur Kopit (1937-2021), Judith Jamison (b. 1943), Paige O'Hara (b. 1956), Suzan-Lori Parks (b. 1963), Thom Clay (b. 1967), Josh Young (b. 1980), Katori Hall (b. 1981), Caroline Bowman (b. 1988)
Watch highlights from the 2012 Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, featuring Tony nominee Josh Young as Judas: