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George Abbott

George Abbott (June 25, 1887 - January 31, 1995) was among the greatest of Broadway showmen. Abbott wrote, produced, and directed some of the most notable Broadway plays, including The Pajama Game[?], A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Damn Yankees[?].

He was born George Francis Abbott in Forestville, New York: his father was mayor of Salamanca, New York for two terms. In 1898 he and his family moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming where Abbott attended Kearney Military Academy[?]. The family returned to New York where Abbott graduated from Hamburg High School in 1907. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Rochester in 1911, and wrote the play Perfectly Harmless[?] that was performed at the University Dramatic Club in 1911.

Abbott then went to Harvard University where he studied play writing under George Pierce Baker; under his tutelage he wrote the play The Head of the Family, which was performed at the Harvard Dramatic Club in 1912. He then won a play contest at the Bijou Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts, (for The Man in the Manhole). He worked there for a year as assistant stage manager.

Abbott first appeared as an actor on Broadway in The Misleading Lady in 1913. While acting in several plays in New York City, he began to write, with this first successful play being 1925's The Fall Guy. He moved on to work in Hollywood as a writer and director, while continuing with his theatre work. His most notable directorial efforts were Jumbo, On Your Toes[?], The Boys from Syracuse[?], Pal Joey[?] (Rodgers and Hart shows), On the Town[?] (with Comden and Green, Leonard Bernstein), High Button Shoes[?], Where's Charley?[?], Call Me Madam[?], A Tree Grows in Brooklyn[?], Wonderful Town[?], The Pajama Game (in which Bob Fosse got his break as a choreographer), Damn Yankees, Fiorello![?], A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (an early Stephen Sondheim musical), Flora the Red Menace[?] (Kander and Ebb's first musical together, and Liza Minnelli's Broadway debut (at age 19))

In addition to his other activities, Abbott acquired a reputation as an astute (and ruthless) "show doctor": when a show was having difficulties in tryouts or previews, he would be called in to supervise changes.

He married his first wife, Ednah Levis in 1914, and they had a daughter Judith, who became an actress and married actor Tom Ewell[?] in 1946. Ednah died in 1930. Abbott married his second wife, Mary Sinclair in April 1946; they divorced in 1951. He married his third wife, Joy Valderrama on November 21, 1983.

In 1965 the 54th St. Theatre (previously the Adelphi Theatre) was named the George Abbott Theatre[?] in his honor. The theatre was demolished in 1970.

He died in Palm Beach, Florida at the age of 107. He stands as one of the most admired men in the history of Broadway.

Credits * Year Title Genre Role

  • 1911 The Man in the Manhole play director, actor
  • 1913 The Misleading Lady play performer
  • 1915 The Yeomen of the Guard operetta performer
  • 1916 The Queen's Enemies one act play performer
  • 1918 Daddies play performer
  • 1918 The Impostor film director, actor
  • 1920 The Broken Wing play performer
  • 1921 Dulcy play performer (on tour)
  • 1923 Zander the Great play performer
  • 1923 White Desert play performer
  • 1924 Hell-bent Fer Heaven play performer
  • 1924 Lazybones play performer
  • 1925 Processional play performer
  • 1925 The Fall Guy play Writer
  • 1925 A Holy Terror play Writer; performer
  • 1926 Love 'em and Leave 'em play Writer; director
  • 1926 Broadway play Writer; director
  • 1926 Chicago play director
  • 1926 Love 'Em and Leave 'Em film writer
  • 1927 Spread Eagle play Staging
  • 1927 Four Walls play Writer; director
  • 1927 Coquette play Writer; director
  • 1927 Bless You, Sister play director
  • 1927 Hills of Peril film writer: based on his play A Holy Terror
  • 1927 Broadway novelization author (with Philip Dunning) of novelization of his play Broadway
  • 1928 Gentlemen of the Press play Staging
  • 1928 Ringside play Writer; Staging
  • 1928 Poppa play Staging
  • 1928 Four Walls film writer: based on his play Four Walls
  • 1929 Coquette film writer: based on his play Coquette
  • 1929 Broadway film writer: based on his play Broadway
  • 1929 Why Bring That Up? film writer: adaptation, additional dialogue
  • 1929 The Saturday Night Kid film writer: based on his play Love 'Em and Leave 'Em
  • 1929 Night Parade film writer: based on his play Ringside
  • 1929 Halfway to Heaven film writer: adaptation
  • 1929 Why Bring That Up? film director
  • 1929 Halfway to Heaven film director
  • 1929 The Carnival Man film director
  • 1929 Bishop's Candlesticks film director
  • 1930 Those We Love play Writer; director; performer
  • 1930 All Quiet on the Western Front film writer: screen play
  • 1930 The Fall Guy film writer: based on his play The Fall Guy
  • 1930 Manslaughter film writer: adaptation
  • 1930 The Sea God film writer: adaptation and additional dialogue
  • 1930 Manslaughter film director
  • 1930 The Sea God film director
  • 1930/1 El Dios del mar film writer: based on his script The Sea God
  • 1931 Louder, Please play director
  • 1931 Stolen Heaven film writer: adaptation
  • 1931 La Incorregible film writer: based on his script Manslaughter
  • 1931 Secrets of a Secretary film writer: adaptation
  • 1931 My Sin film writer: adaptation
  • 1931 Der Sprung ins Nichts film writer
  • 1931 Sombras del circo film writer: based on his script Half-Way to Heaven
  • 1931 Ā mi-chemin du ciel film writer
  • 1931 Stolen Heaven film director
  • 1931 Secrets of a Secretary film director
  • 1931 My Sin film director
  • 1931 The Cheat film director
  • 1932 Lilly Turner play Producer, Writer; director
  • 1932 The Great Magoo play Staging
  • 1932 Twentieth Century play Producer; director
  • 1932 Those We Love film writer: based on his play Those We Love
  • 1932 Halvvägs till himlen film writer
  • 1933 Heat Lightning play Producer, Writer; director
  • 1933 The Drums Begin play Producer; Staging
  • 1933 Lilly Turner film writer: based on his play Lilly Turner
  • 1934 John Brown play Producer; Staging; performer
  • 1934 Kill That Story play Producer, Staging
  • 1934 Small Miracle play Staging
  • 1934 Ladies' Money play Writer; Staging
  • 1934 Page Miss Glory play Staging
  • 1934 Heat Lightning film writer: based on his play Heat Lightning
  • 1934 Straight Is the Way film writer: based on his play Four Walls
  • 1935 Three Men on a Horse play Writer; Staging
  • 1935 Jumbo musical director; score by Rodgers and Hart
  • 1935 Boy Meets Girl play Producer; Staging
  • 1936 On Your Toes musical Book; score by Rodgers and Hart
  • 1936 Sweet River play Producer; Writer; director
  • 1936 Brother Rat play Producer; director
  • 1936 Three Men on a Horse film writer: based on his play Three Men on a Horse
  • 1937 Room Service play Producer; Staging
  • 1937 Angel Island play Producer; Staging
  • 1937 Brown Sugar play Producer; Staging
  • 1938 All That Glitters play Producer; Staging
  • 1938 What a Life play Producer
  • 1938 The Boys from Syracuse musical Producer; Book; director; score by Rodgers and Hart
  • 1938 Boy Meets Girl film producer
  • 1938 Room Service film producer
  • 1938 Brother Rat film producer
  • 1939 The Primrose Path play Producer; Staging
  • 1939 Mrs. O'Brien Entertains play Producer; Staging
  • 1939 See My Lawyer play Producer
  • 1939 Too Many Girls musical Producer; Staging; score by Rodgers and Hart
  • 1939 Ring Two play Producer; Staging
  • 1939 On Your Toes film writer: based on his play On Your Toes
  • 1940 The Unconquered play Producer; Staging
  • 1940 Goodbye in the Night play Producer; Staging
  • 1940 Pal Joey musical Producer; director; score by Rodgers and Hart
  • 1940 The Boys from Syracuse film writer: based on his play The Boys from Syracuse; score by Rodgers and Hart
  • 1940 Too Many Girls film producer, director; score by Rodgers and Hart
  • 1940 The Primrose Path film producer (uncredited)
  • 1941 Best Foot Forward musical Producer; director
  • 1941 Banjo Eyes musical Based on his play "Three Men on a Horse"
  • 1941 Highway West film writer: based on his play Heat Lightning
  • 1942 Jason play Producer
  • 1942 Three Men on a Horse play (revival) Writer
  • 1942 Beat the Band musical Producer; Book; director
  • 1942 Sweet Charity play director
  • 1942 Broadway film writer: based on his play Broadway
  • 1943 Kiss and Tell play Producer; Staging
  • 1943 Get Away Old Man play Producer; director
  • 1944 A Highland Fling play Producer; Staging
  • 1944 Snafu play Producer; Staging
  • 1944 On the Town musical director; score by Leonard Bernstein
  • 1945 Billion Dollar Baby musical director
  • 1945 Kiss and Tell film producer
  • 1945 Snafu film executive producer
  • 1946 The Dancer play (revival) Producer
  • 1947 It Takes Two play Producer; director
  • 1947 Barefoot Boy With Cheek musical Producer; director
  • 1947 High Button Shoes musical director; score by Jule Styne
  • 1947 Beat the Band film writer: based on his play Beat the Band
  • 1948 Where's Charley? musical Book; director
  • 1948 Look, Ma, I'm Dancin'! musical Producer; director
  • 1949 Mrs. Gibbons' Boys play Producer; Staging
  • 1949 Touch and Go musical Producer
  • 1950 Call Me Madam musical director
  • 1950 Out of This World musical, Additional direction by George Abbott (play doctoring)
  • 1951 Where's Charley? musical, Book; director
  • 1951 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn musical Producer; Book; director
  • 1951 The Number play, Staging
  • 1952 In Any Language play, Producer; director
  • 1952 Where's Charley film writer: based on his play Where's Charley?
  • 1952 "The U.S. Royal Showcase TV Series Host
  • 1952 The Skin of Our Teeth TV drama actor
  • 1953 Wonderful Town musical, director
  • 1953 Me and Juliet musical, director
  • 1954 The Pajama Game musical, Book; director
  • 1954 On Your Toes revival, musical Producer; Book; director
  • 1955 Damn Yankees musical, Book; director
  • 1955 The Skin of Our Teeth revival, play performer
  • 1957 New Girl in Town musical Book; director
  • 1957 The Pajama Game film writer: based on his play The Pajama Game
  • 1957 Drei Mann auf einem Pferd film writer: based on his play Three Men on a Horse
  • 1957 The Pajama Game film director, producer
  • 1958 Drink to Me Only play director
  • 1958 Damn Yankees! film director, producer, writer: based on his play Damn Yankees!
  • 1959 Once Upon a Mattress musical, director
  • 1959 Fiorello! musical Book; director
  • 1960 Tenderloin musical, Book; director
  • 1961 A Call on Kuprin play director
  • 1961 Let It Ride musical, Based on his play "Three Men on a Horse"
  • 1961 Take Her, She's Mine play director
  • 1962 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum musical director; score by Stephen Sondheim
  • 1962 Never Too Late play director; Staging
  • 1964 Fade Out - Fade In musical director
  • 1964 Mister Abbott autobiography author
  • 1965 Flora, The Red Menace musical Book; director; score by Kander and Ebb
  • 1965 Anya musical, operetta Book; director; score by Robert Wright & George Forrest[?]
  • 1966 Agatha Sue, I Love You play director
  • 1966 Help Stamp Out Marriage! play director
  • 1967 How Now, Dow Jones musical director
  • 1968 The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N musical director
  • 1969 The Fig Leaves Are Falling musical director
  • 1969 Three Men on a Horse revival, play Writer; director
  • 1970 Norman, Is That You? play director
  • 1970 Not Now, Darling play director
  • 1970 Trois hommes sur un cheval film writer play Three Men on a Horse
  • 1973 The Pajama Game revival, musical, Book; director; score by Adler and Ross[?]
  • 1974 Where's Charley? revival, musical, Book; score by Frank Loesser
  • 1976 Music Is musical, Book; director
  • 1979 Tryout novel author
  • 1983 On Your Toes revival, musical Book; director
  • 1986 The Boys from Syracuse television play writer based on his play The Boys from Syracuse
  • 1987 Broadway revival, play Writer; director
  • 1993 Three Men on a Horse revival, play, Writer
  • 1994 Damn Yankees revival, musical Book; score by Adler and Ross[?]
  • 2002 The Boys from Syracuse revival, musical Based on the original Book

Awards & Nominationas Abbott won five Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize (for "Fiorello!"). He was Academy Award nominated for All Quiet on the Western Front. Abbott was also honored at the 1982 Kennedy Center Honors[?]. He received an award for his 70+ year dedication to American theater.



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