Happy 80th Birthday Nichelle Nichols! Ms. Nichols was born on December 28, 1932 in Robbins, IL and in this 1961 photo, Ms. Nichols rehearses a dance number with some of the cast from “Kicks and Co.,” a 1961 musical satire about segregation that was directed at one point by Lorraine Hansberry and produced by her husband). Although the show had major financial backing, an “all-star interracial cast” (Burgess Meredith, Lonnie Sattin, Vi Velasco) and success in Chicago, it never made it to Broadway as planned. Photo via The New York Public Library.
Ethel Ayler, Leslie Scott (left) and LeVern Hutcherson (right) arrive in Berlin for a second tour of concert performances of music from “Porgy and Bess” on December 12, 1955. You may remember Ms. Ayler as a model (with gorgeous silver hair)in the 1980s and as Claire Huxtable’s mother on “The Cosby Show.” Mr. Scott was a baritone who sang the part of “Porgy” and played “Jake” in the film version in 1959. Mr. Hutcherson was also a baritone who sang the role of “Porgy” many times and recorded a cast album of “Porgy and Bess” with my aunt, Margaret Tynes and the wonderful Avon Long as “Sportin’ Life.”
Photo: Popperfoto/Getty Images
Audra McDonald calls the theater her home. Sunday night she took her place at the head of the table.
McDonald’s star turn in a revival of Porgy & Bess culminated in her winning the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, the fifth Tony of her career. But as Shadow and Act’s Tambay reported Monday, not only has McDonald reached some rarified air–she’s only the third woman ever (and first woman of color) to win this many Tonys–but she’s done so with shocking efficiency: she’s appeared in only 10 Broadway productions since 1991.
“To help put this into some perspective,” Tambay writes, “imagine a Hollywood actress making 10 movies over a 20 year period, and winning Academy Awards (whether supporting or lead) for her performances in 5 of them.”
Tambay also raises a good question–where could McDonald, who also has two Grammy Awards and two Emmy Award nominations under her belt, go from here? One tantalizing possibility: Aretha Franklin reportedly wants McDonald to play her in a movie.
Diahann Carroll and Richard Kiley on Broadway in the 1962 musical, “No Strings.” The iconic composer, Richard Rodgers (Rodgers & Hammerstein) conceived the role of Barbara Woodruff, a fashion model in Paris who falls in love with a white writer from Maine (Mr. Kiley) with Ms. Carroll in mind. She won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical (tied with Anna Maria Alberghetti in Carnival!) for her work. Photo: Bettman/Corbis