|It is generally accepted that the fall of our civilization began on this date in 1962. Walmart opened its first store.|
A year later, it was the date that Vermont became the first state to abolish slavery. Because at the time Vermont was a sovereign territory, it wasn't even AT the Second Continental Congress.
Perhaps I'm being a little bit zealous about July 2nd. You have already guessed that it must be my birthday.
But not just mine. Lindsey Lohan was also born on this date, and I imagine she is hoisting a few to celebrate even as I write this.
|Tyrone Guthrie was born today, in 1900. I wouldn't|
mind working at his theater.
|Ron Silver shares my birthday. He appeared in|
one of my favorite forgotten films, Garbo Talks.
Polly Holliday and Larry David were also born 7/2.
I can't claim to share much in common with Thurgood Marshall (I don't have an airport named after me) or Imelda Marcos (I haven't bought new shoes in years) or the Roman Emperor Valentinian. (Let's get real, who the hell even knows anything about any Roman Emperor after Nero? Well maybe Constantine, but just because he popped up in Sunday School...).
Speaking of death and destruction, I have to admit that many more important people died on July 2nd than were born on it. That sourpuss Nostradamus left this earth in 1566, signalling the way to a whole host of influential folks to follow suit.
Earnest Hemingway stopped wondering For Whom the Bell Tolls, discovering on this date that it tolled for he. By coincidence or divine intervention, his granddaughter Margeaux Hemingway also died today, in 1996. WWII Pin-up girl Betty Grable finally retired those million-dollar legs on this date (in her later years, I saw her in "Hello, Dolly" in summer stock, she wasn't half bad!).
|Fred Gwynne moved out of 1313 Mockingbird Ln|
today. Lee Remick and Jimmy Stewart joined him,
and Mario Puzo, creator of The Godfather, began
sleeping with the fishes today.
I don't think Bathsheba Spooner had the legs of Betty Grable, but she died today, too. She was a real piece of work back in the 18th century. She nursed a 16 year old soldier back to health during the Revolutionary War, then became pregnant by him. She then arranged for two escaped British Prisoners of War to kill her aging husband, and dump the old coot down a well.
|Happy Execution Day, Bathsheba!|
At her trial, she pleaded extenuating circumstances (wouldn't you?), and became the first woman to be executed by the newly formed United States of America.
She was still pregnant at the time.
Amelia Earhart disappeared on this date, in the middle of that round-the-world flight she was taking.
In my opinion, the most significant thing to happen on this date occurred in 1987. That year, one of the most influential figures in the American Theatre died.
|Micheal Bennett died on my|
birthday in 1987.
I write of the late, great Michael Bennett, creator of A Chorus Line, Dreamgirls, and the sorely underrated Ballroom (which I saw twice in one week during its short Broadway life. Go here for its number presented at the Tony Awards). Bennett's work has appeared numerous times on the Dance Party, including this grainy but exciting clip from the original A Chorus Line, and this unforgettable clip from Katherine Hepburn's only musical, Coco. He was also responsible for this kooky holiday number from Promises, Promises.
But for this special catch-up/birthday/deathday Dance Party, let's take a look at Dreamgirls.
Before Michael Bennett became attached to the project, it was being prepped as a starring vehicle for Nell Carter, who later departed the workshop phase when TV beckoned.
|Holliday was ferocious in the show, as you can see from the|
clip below. Her role was originally to die in Act I, but our
star was having none of that. Effie now succeeds as a solo
in Act II.
It was Bennett himself who plucked Jennifer Holiday from her gospel obscurity (she was only 20) and placed her at the center of the musical. The new star gave him lots of trouble, quitting twice because her role was too small. The clip below, from the Tony Awards of 1982, shows why Holliday won the award that year. It's a bit long, but includes brief appearances by Sheryl Lee Ralph and a very slim Loretta Devine, both of whom went on to larger careers. Holliday did too, but she never escaped the fame earned from this debut performance, with which she will always be associated.
In honor of the day, here's this: