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An Award for Excellence

The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards® got their start in 1947 when the Wing established an awards program to celebrate excellence in the theatre.

Named for Antoinette Perry, an actress, director, producer, and the dynamic wartime leader of the American Theatre Wing who had recently passed away, the Tony Awards made their official debut at a dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947. Vera Allen, Perry's successor as chairwoman of the Wing, presided over an evening that included dining, dancing, and a program of entertainment. The dress code was black tie optional, and the performers who took to the stage included Mickey Rooney, Herb Shriner, Ethel Waters, and David Wayne. Eleven Tonys were presented in seven categories, and there were eight special awards, including one for Vincent Sardi, proprietor of the eponymous eatery on West 44th Street. Big winners that night included José Ferrer, Arthur Miller, Helen Hayes, Ingrid Bergman, Patricia Neal, Elia Kazan and Agnes de Mille.

Winners Diane Carroll, Robert Morse, Margaret Leighton and Paul Scofield at the 1962 Tony Awards.

The Early Years

The Broadway community embraced the Tonys from the beginning. While the awards ceremony in its early years was smaller than it is today, when more than 5,000 individuals attend the performance in Radio City and millions more watch it across the country on CBS, the annual gala dinner quickly became one of the highlights of the New York theatre season. More than 1,000 guests attended the first Tony dinner in 1947.

In the 18 years that followed, the dinner and Tony Awards presentations took place in ballrooms of such hotels as the Plaza, the Waldorf Astoria, and the Astor. WOR and the Mutual network broadcast the awards ceremonies over the radio, and television coverage began in 1956 when Du Mont's Channel 5 telecast them locally for the first time. Entertainment was provided by such Broadway favorites and talented then-newcomers as Katherine Cornell, Guthrie McClintic, Ralph Bellamy, Joan Crawford, Alfred de Liagre, Jr., Gilbert Miller, Shirley Booth, Carol Channing, Joan Fontaine, Paul Newman, Geraldine Page, Anne Bancroft, Sidney Poitier, Fredric March, Robert Goulet, Gig Young, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Henry Fonda, and many others.

In spite of the untimely death of Helen Menken, then chairwoman of the Wing, the 1966 Tony Awards were presented at the Rainbow Room. The ceremony was subdued and, for the first and only time, held in the afternoon without entertainment. The following year the Tony ceremony was once again a gala affair, but with a key difference. With Isabelle Stevenson as its new president, the Wing invited The Broadway League - then known as the League of New York Theatres - to co-present the Tonys in 1967, just in time for the ceremony's inaugural broadcast on network television. For the first time, a national audience could watch the presentation of Tony Awards.

The Television Era

Julie Andrews

Alexander H. Cohen produced the historic broadcast, which lasted only an hour, and organized a celebratory gala that followed immediately afterward. That year the Tonys moved from their traditional hotel ballroom setting to a Broadway theatre - the Shubert. Cohen continued to produce the awards ceremony and the gala dinner for the next two decades, overseeing their national telecast on various networks on behalf of the League and the Wing. During his tenure, the Tonys became known as the finest awards program on television, incorporating live performances with the bestowal of actual awards. The Cohen era ended in 1987, and that year the Wing and the League created Tony Award Productions, a joint venture that has continued to produce the awards and their related events to this day.

CBS began carrying the broadcast in 1978, and has aired the Tonys every year since. For six years beginning with the 51st annual awards presentation in 1997, the Tony Awards program took on a new format, thanks to a unique partnership between CBS and PBS. The result was a one-hour PBS special that covered 10 awards, immediately preceding the CBS broadcast. However, beginning in 2003, CBS devoted an entire three-hour time slot to the Tonys. The result was a seamless awards and entertainment program on that network.

The Tonys celebrated a milestone in 1997 when the awards ceremony moved away from Broadway for the first time in three decades. For all but one of the years between 1997 and 2010, Tony Night took place each June at New York's celebrated Radio City Music Hall. After a two-year spell at the Beacon Theatre in 2011 and 2012, the Tony Awards announced a return to Radio City for 2013.

In 2000 IBM joined with the Tonys to launch TonyAwards.com, a website that immediately became the definitive resource for information about the awards. The site serves as a year-round home for the Tonys on the Internet.

The Medallion

During the first two years of the Tonys (1947 and 1948), there was no official Tony Award. The winners were presented with a scroll and, in addition, such mementos as a gold money clip (for the men) and a compact (for the women).

In 1949 the designers' union, United Scenic Artists, sponsored a contest for a suitable model for the award. The winning entry, a disk-shaped medallion designed by Herman Rosse, depicted the masks of comedy and tragedy on one side and the profile of Antoinette Perry on the other. The medallion was initiated that year at the third annual dinner. It continues to be the official Tony Award.

Since 1967 the medallion has been mounted on a black pedestal with a curved armature. After the ceremony, each award is numbered for tracking purposes and engraved with the winner's name.

Adapted, in part, from The Tony® Award: A complete listing with a history of the American Theatre Wing, edited by Isabelle Stevenson. ©1989, 1994 by the American Theatre Wing. Heinemann, a division of Reed Elsevier, Inc.

The Original "Tony"

By Ellis Nassour

The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards® got their start in 1947 when the Wing established an awards program to celebrate excellence in the theatre.

Named for Antoinette Perry, an actress, director, producer, and the dynamic wartime leader of the American Theatre Wing who had recently passed away, the Tony Awards made their official debut at a dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947. Vera Allen, Perry's successor as chairwoman of the Wing, presided over an evening that included dining, dancing, and a program of entertainment. The dress code was black tie optional, and the performers who took to the stage included Mickey Rooney, Herb Shriner, Ethel Waters, and David Wayne. Eleven Tonys were presented in seven categories, and there were eight special awards, including one for Vincent Sardi, proprietor of the eponymous eatery on West 44th Street. Big winners that night included José Ferrer, Arthur Miller, Helen Hayes, Ingrid Bergman, Patricia Neal, Elia

Early Stages

At age 15, she joined her uncle George Wessells's touring company. "I watched and learned. I did everything from helping in wardrobe to selling tickets. I was petite and blonde and soon was playing the ingenue in melodramas and farces. Eventually, Uncle George trained me, mainly in the Shakespearean male roles."

She left the Wessels company in 1905 in Chicago where she auditioned for the part that brought her to New York. She was almost immediately cast to join The Music Master, a long-running melodrama about a Viennese conductor in America searching for his daughter. Miss Perry played the lead female role opposite David Warfield, one of the theatre's most popular actors.

Warfield had great admiration for Miss Perry and they became friends. He was associated with impresario David Belasco and arranged for Miss Perry to audition for him. In October 1907, Miss Perry was cast as Warfield's leading lady in Belacso's A Grand Army Man at his new Styvestant Theatre (now the Belasco).

Soon, another man was in Antoinette Perry’s life. Frank Frueauff, an old beau from home who merged Denver Gas and Electric, of which he was vice president, with Cities Service (now CITGO). They fell madly in love, and, at the peak of her New York acting career, Miss Perry married Frueauff.

In 1920, approached by Brock Pemberton, a flamboyant press agent turned producer, Miss Perry, unbeknownst to Frueauff, became an "angel" in Pemberton's production of Zona Gale's comedy Miss Lulu Bett. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and become a huge hit. Soon Miss Perry was Pemberton’s silent partner. When her husband discovered his wife has invested in theatre and had done so well, he gave his blessings. Then, in 1922, he died of a heart attack. He left a $13-million estate.

"Mother generously lent money," daughter Margaret Perry, 89 and an actress who long ago gave up theatre, said from her wilderness ranch in Colorado, "and bailed actors and playwrights out of overdue hotel bills. She enjoyed the extravagant life. The summer of 1923, she took us, our governess, Uncle Brock, as we were instructed to call him, and his wife Margaret, and ten others to Europe for seven weeks. On coming home, Mother heard theatre's siren call again."

A Director is Born

She went into a great depression and became an avid reader. Inspired by actress/playwright Rachel Crothers, who directed her own plays, Perry decided she wanted to direct. Her wealth, which she doubled playing the stock market, and her relationship with Pemberton were her entree. They joined forces, professionally as well as romantically, and had modest successes. In 1929, they struck paydirt with Preston Sturges's Strictly Dishonorable, a cynical play about virtue and Prohibition. A critic praised Perry "for doing a man's job" as director. Scalpers got $30 a ticket. Movie rights were sold. They were on their way to easy street.

A month later, the stock market crashed.

"Mother awoke two million dollars in debt," recalled Margaret. "It took seven years to recover. Somehow, probably because of the success of Strictly Dishonorable, she got a loan of two million dollars."

Perry and Pemberton shared an intimate office in a theatre (it was adjacent to the Imperial, where there is a parking lot today), and lunched daily at Sardi’s, where they fueled lots of theatrical gossip. However, at the end of their business day, she'd go home to her children and he to his wife.

Antoinette Perry

Antoinette Perry: Philanthropist

In spite of her theatrical credentials, Perry is best remembered for her generosity and leadership in World War II as a co-founder of the Theatre Wing of Allied Relief, subsequently, the American Theatre Wing.

The Wing operated the famed Stage Door Canteen in the basement of the (now razed) 44th Street Theatre, where stars worked as dishwashers, waiters, waitresses, and entertainers for the armed forces. The sale of film rights for a story about the canteen, and a six-figure check from Perry along with support from Rodgers and Hammerstein, provided USO tours of shows to overseas troops.

Margaret confided her mother was an inveterate gambler. "The seed money for many a Wing activity or show investment came from her track winnings. Even during Wing board meetings, mother played the horses. She'd have her secretary tip toe in to give her the odds, then place a wager with a bookie."

Perry was also president of the National Experimental Theatre and financed, with Actors Equity and the Dramatists Guild, the work of new playwrights. During and after the war, she underwrote auditions for 7,000 hopefuls. Her dream of a national actor's school was realized in 1946.

"Mother developed heart problems," Margaret explained, "but, as a devout Christian Scientist, she refused to see a doctor. That, her directorial duties and her dedication to the work of the Wing took a terrible toll." By now, because of their huge successes, Pemberton was a member of cafe society and, because of his brother’s membership in the Algonquin Roundtable, on the best terms with literary society. "But," noted Margaret, "from wherever he was, he'd call Mother every night. Often his calls were the only thing that alleviated her intense physical pain."

Ellis Nassour is an entertainment journalist, author and playwright. He has written Honky Tonk Angel: The Initmate Story of Patsy Cline, Rock Opera: The Creation of Jesus Christ Superstar, and the musical Honky Tonk Angel, adapted from his book.

QUICK FACTS

Play productions with the most Tony nominations:
Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia (2007) and August Wilson's Fences (2010 revival) - 10

Play production that has won the most Tony Awards:
Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia (2007) - 7

Musical productions with the most Tony nominations:
The Producers, the new Mel Brooks musical (2001) and Billy Elliot, The Musical (2009) - 15

Musical production that has won the most Tonys:
The Producers, the new Mel Brooks musical (2001) - 12

Musical revival with most Tony Awards:
South Pacific (2008) - 7

Musical revival with most Tony nominations:
Kiss Me, Kate (2000) - 12

Performer with most Tony nominations:
Julie Harris - 10; Chita Rivera - 10

TONYS TRIVIA

Coasting to Glory
Tom Stoppard's epic trilogy The Coast of Utopia (2007) earned seven Tony Awards, more than any other play in Tony history. It also received a record 10 nominations, tied with the 2010 revival of August Wilson's Fences for the most nominations for a play production.
Musical Champions
The Producers, the new Mel Brooks musical (2001) and Billy Elliot, The Musical (2009) share the record as the most-nominated productions in Tony history, with 15. The Producers is also the most-winning show, triumphing in 12 categories including Best Musical. The three awards it didn't win were due to its multiple nominations in acting categories. Billy Elliot won 10.
Broadway Royalty
The Prince of Broadway
Harold Prince has earned more Tony Awards than anyone else (21 awards), including eight for directing, eight for producing, two as producer of the year's Best Musical, and three special Tony Awards.
Send in the Tonys
Stephen Sondheim has received eight Tony Awards, more than any other composer. He has won seven times: Best Music and Best Lyrics for Company (1971); and Best Score for Follies (1972), A Little Night Music (1973), Sweeney Todd (1979), Into the Woods (1988) and Passion (1994). His eighth honor was a 2008 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.
Dancin' Man
Bob Fosse is the choreographer with the most Tony Awards, with an unprecedented eight Tony Awards for choreography, as well as one for direction. Choreography: The Pajama Game (1955), Damn Yankees (1956), Redhead (1959), Little Me (1963), Sweet Charity (1966), Pippin (1973), Dancin' (1978), and Big Deal (1986). Direction: Pippin (1973).
The Hostess with the Mostess
Angela Lansbury has hosted or co-hosted more Tony telecasts than any other individual, with five telecasts (1968, 1971, 1987, 1988, and 1989). In second place, with four telecasts each, are Neil Patrick Harris (2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013) and Hugh Jackman (2003, 2004, 2005, and 2014).
Eight is Great
Jason Robards Jr. received more Tony Award nominations than any other male actor. His eight nominations were for Long Day's Journey Into Night (1957), The Disenchanted (1959), Toys in the Attic (1960), After the Fall (1964), Hughie (1965), The Country Girl (1972), A Moon for the Misbegotten (1974), and A Touch of the Poet (1978). Out of all of those nominations, he only won one Tony Award, for The Disenchanted.
Four-play
Boyd Gaines and Raúl Esparza are the only men to have been nominated in all four performance categories in which an actor may be eligible: Best Actor in a Play, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Play, and Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Three women have been nominated in all four corresponding performance categories: Angela Lansbury, Jan Maxwell, and Audra McDonald.
Reproductions
The revival that won the most Tony Awards was South Pacific (2008), with seven. Kiss Me, Kate (2000) received 12 nominations, the most for any revival, but it only won five Tonys.
0 for 12
The musical that fared most poorly on Tony night was The Scottsboro Boys in 2011. The show received 12 nominations but won no awards.
0 for 9
The play that fared the worst on Tony night was Indiscretions (1995), which won no awards despite having received nine nominations.
Phan-tastic!
The Best Musical with the longest Broadway run to date is the 1988 winner, The Phantom of the Opera, which opened on January 26, 1988 and is still going strong.
Mr. Versatility
Michael Blakemore is the only director to win Tony Awards as Best Director of a Play and Best Director of a Musical in the same year. He won for Copenhagen (play) and Kiss Me, Kate (musical) in 2000.
Triple Crown
Bob Fosse was the only director to win a Tony, an Oscar, and an Emmy in the same year (1973). He won two Tonys (direction and choreography) for Pippin, an Oscar for Cabaret and an Emmy for "Liza with a Z."
At the Helm
Mike Nichols has won more Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Play than any other individual. His six nods were for Barefoot in the Park (1964), Luv and The Odd Couple (1965), Plaza Suite (1968), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1972), The Real Thing (1984), and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (2012). He has also won in other categories for directing the musical Monty Python's Spamalot (2005), and for producing Annie (1977) and The Real Thing (1984). That makes a total of nine Tonys.
Together Forever
Three pairs of performers have shared a single nomination for playing separate roles. Donal Donnelly and Patrick Bedford were jointly nominated as Best Actor for Philadelphia, Here I Come! (1966). John Kani and Winston Ntshona won jointly as Best Actor in a Play for the double bill Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island (1975). Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley (playing a set of Siamese twins) were nominated as Best Actress in a Musical for Side Show (1998).
All My Children
Lauri Peters shared a single 1960 nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical with Kathy Dunn, Evanna Lien, Mary Susan Locke, and Marilyn Rogers-and two boys, William Snowden, and Joseph Stewart. They played various younger Von Trapp children in the original production of The Sound of Music.
Three Billys
David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish are the only performers to have jointly won a Tony Award for their alternating performances of a single role: the title character of Billy Elliot, The Musical (2009).
In Her Genes
Amanda Plummer is the only Tony Award winner whose parents have both won Tonys. She won as Best Featured Actress in a Play for Agnes of God (1982). Her father, Christopher Plummer, won as Best Actor in a Musical for Cyrano (1974) and Best Actor in a Play for Barrymore (1997). Her mother, Tammy Grimes, won as Featured Actress in a Musical for The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1961) and Best Actress in a Play for Private Lives (1970).
At the 1954 Tonys
A Very Good Year
Five actresses have won a Tony and an Oscar in the same year. Shirley Booth won a Tony for The Time of the Cuckoo and an Oscar for Come Back, Little Sheba (1953). Audrey Hepburn won a Tony for Ondine and an Oscar for Roman Holiday (1954). Ellen Burstyn won a Tony for Same Time, Next Year and an Oscar for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1975). Mercedes Ruehl won a Tony for Lost in Yonkers and an Oscar for The Fisher King (1991). Judi Dench won a Tony for Amy's View and an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love (1999).
Leading Ladies
Audra McDonald has won six Tony Awards for performance, more than any other individual. She is the only person to have won Tony Awards in four different acting categories. Julie Harris also earned six Tony Awards. She won five competitive awards for performance, and received a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.
Leading Man
Boyd Gaines is the male performer with the most Tony Awards in acting categories. He has won four to date, for The Heidi Chronicles (Featured Actor in a Play, 1989); She Loves Me (Lead Actor in a Musical, 1994); Contact (Featured Actor in a Musical, 2000); and Gypsy (Featured Actor in a Musical, 2008).
Jerry's Girls
Diva! Diva! Diva!
Angela Lansbury and Gwen Verdon have each won four Tony Awards in the musical categories, more than any other actress. Ms. Lansbury won for Mame (1966), Dear World (1969), Gypsy (1975), and Sweeney Todd (1979). She earned a fifth Tony for her work in the Noël Coward play Blithe Spirit in 2009. Ms. Verdon won for Can-Can (1954), Damn Yankees (1956), New Girl in Town (1958) and Redhead (1959).
Déjà Vu
Eight performers have won the Tony and later the Oscar for the same role: José Ferrer in Cyrano de Bergerac (Tony: 1947/Oscar: 1950), Shirley Booth in Come Back, Little Sheba (1950/1953), Yul Brynner in The King and I (1952/1956), Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady (1957/1964), Anne Bancroft in The Miracle Worker (1960/1962), Paul Scofield in A Man for All Seasons (1962/1966), Jack Albertson in The Subject Was Roses (1965/1968) and Joel Grey in Cabaret (1967/1973). Lila Kedrova did it the other way around. She won an Oscar for Zorba the Greek, and 20 years later won a Tony for the same role in Zorba (1964 Oscar/1984 Tony).
You Can Say That Again
The Tony Award-winning play with the longest title was The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (1966). That's 151 letters, 26 words, 44 syllables (and four Tonys). It was known as Marat/Sade for short.
The Soul of Wit
The Tony Award-winning play with the shortest title was Da (1978).
Twice Blessed
Five individuals in Tony history have been nominated in two different performance categories in the same year.
  • Amanda Plummer was the first in 1982, when she was nominated as Best Actress in a Play for A Taste of Honey and Best Featured Actress in a Play for Agnes of God. She won for Agnes of God.
  • Dana Ivey made history in 1984 as an acting nominee for both a play and a musical. She was nominated as Best Featured Actress in a Play for Heartbreak House and Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Sunday in the Park with George.
  • Kate Burton was nominated for two plays in 2002: Hedda Gabler (leading role) and The Elephant Man (featured).
  • Jan Maxwell was nominated twice in 2010, for the plays The Royal Family (lead) and Lend Me a Tenor (featured).
  • Mark Rylance snagged two nominations in 2014, for Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (featured) and Richard III (lead). He won for Twelfth Night.
Gender Bender
Ben Vereen and Patina Miller are the only pair of individuals of different genders to win a Tony Award for portraying the same character. They were honored for their performances as "Leading Player" in Pippin, he in 1973 for the original Broadway production (Best Actor in a Musical); she for the 2013 revival (Best Actress in a Musical).
All in the Family
Three sets of family members have been nominated for Tonys in the same category in the same year: Richard Rodgers and daughter Mary Rodgers were both nominated as the composer of the Best Musical in 1960; he for The Sound of Music and she for Once Upon a Mattress. He won. Lynn Redgrave and niece Natasha Richardson were both nominated for Best Actress in a Play in 1993; Ms. Redgrave for Shakespeare for My Father and Ms. Richardson for Anna Christie. Jennifer Ehle and her mother, Rosemary Harris, were both nominated for Best Actress in a Play in 2000. Ms. Ehle won for her performance in The Real Thing. Harris had appeared in Waiting in the Wings.
Three Generations
Adam Guettel is the only Tony winner who is both the grandson of another winner and the son of a Tony nominee. Guettel earned two Tonys in 2005: Best Score and Best Orchestrations for The Light in the Piazza. His grandfather, Richard Rodgers, won six Tonys as a composer and producer of such shows as South Pacific, The King and I, No Strings, and The Sound of Music. He also received three Special Tony Awards. Guettel's mother, Mary Rodgers (Richard's daughter) was a 1960 Tony nominee as the composer of Once Upon a Mattress.
At This Performance...
Only one cast replacement has ever been nominated for a Tony Award in a competitive category. Larry Kert was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in Company (1971). Dean Jones originated the role (and can be heard on the cast album) but left the production soon after the opening.
Class of 1990
Renaissance Men
Tommy Tune, Harvey Fierstein and Trey Parker have each received Tony Awards in four different categories. Tune won as Best Actor in a Musical for My One and Only; Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Seesaw; Best Choreography for A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, My One and Only, Grand Hotel: The Musical, and The Will Rogers Follies; and Best Director of a Musical for Nine, Grand Hotel: The Musical, and The Will Rogers Follies. Fierstein received Tonys as Best Actor and as the author of the Best Play for Torch Song Trilogy; he also won Best Book of a Musical for La Cage aux Folles and Best Actor in a Musical for Hairspray. Parker won his four on a single night, for The Book of Mormon: Best Book, Best Score, Best Direction, and (as a producer) Best Musical.
On the Alley
The Tony Awards ceremony has been presented at the Shubert Theatre eight times, more than at any other Broadway house.
House of Hits
The Richard Rodgers Theatre (formerly the 46th Street Theatre) has housed the most Tony Award-winning Best Plays and Best Musicals: 10, including Guys and Dolls (1951), Damn Yankees (1956), Redhead (1959), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1962), 1776 (1969), Raisin (1974), Nine (1982), Fences (1987), Lost in Yonkers (1991), and In The Heights (2008).
Short but Sweet
Passion (1994) was the Tony Award winning Best Musical with the shortest run (280 performances), and Rags (1987) was the Tony-nominated Best Musical with the fewest regular performances (it closed after only four).
What a Scene!
Oliver Smith is the scenic designer with the most Tony Awards. He collected eight Tonys, all within a nine-year period: My Fair Lady (1957), West Side Story (1958), The Sound of Music (1960), Becket (1961), Camelot (1961), Hello, Dolly! (1964) and Baker Street (1965), as well as a special Tony Award (1965).
Light the Lights!
Jules Fisher has won nine Tony Awards, more than any other lighting designer. He won for Pippin (1973), Ulysses in Nighttown (1974), Dancin' (1978), Grand Hotel: the Musical (1990), The Will Rogers Follies (1991), Jelly's Last Jam (1992), and, with Peggy Eisenhauer, Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk (1996), Assassins (2004), and Lucky Guy (2013). He has received a total of 20 nominations as a lighting designer and one as a producer, of Dancin’.
Ties in Tony History
There have been a number of ties in Tony Awards history, including:
  • Actress in a Musical (1958): Gwen Verdon, New Girl in Town and Thelma Ritter, New Girl in Town
  • Featured Actor in a Musical (1959): Russell Nype, Goldilocks, and Leonard Stone, Redhead
  • Musical (1960): The Sound of Music and Fiorello!
  • Actress in a Musical (1962): Anna Maria Alberghetti, Carnival! and Diahann Carroll, No Strings
  • Actress in a Musical (1968): Patricia Routledge, Darling of the Day and Leslie Uggams, Hallelujah, Baby!
  • Costume Design (1977): Theoni V. Aldredge, Annie and Santo Loquasto, The Cherry Orchard
  • Actress in a Play (1979): Constance Cummings, Wings and Carole Shelley, The Elephant Man
  • Scenic Design (1980): John Lee Beatty, Talley's Folly and David Mitchell, Barnum
  • Score (1993): John Kander/Fred Ebb, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Pete Townshend, The Who's Tommy
  • Orchestrations (2009): Martin Koch, Billy Elliot, The Musical and Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt, Next to Normal
Did You Catch That?
Dolores Gray performed the shortest-lived Tony Award-winning role. She won a Tony Award for her performance in Carnival in Flanders (1953), a musical that ran only six performances.
Leading Actors, 1996
His and Hers
Some of the husbands-and-wife couples who have both won Tony Awards:
  • Hume Cronyn won for featured actor in a play for Hamlet (1964). His wife, Jessica Tandy, won three Tony Awards for Best Actress in a Play: for A Streetcar Named Desire (1948), The Gin Game (1978), and Foxfire 1983.
  • Phyllis Newman won for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Subways Are for Sleeping (1962). Her husband, Adolph Green, won Tony Awards for the book and/or lyrics for Wonderful Town (1953), Hallelujah, Baby! (1968), Applause (1970), On The Twentieth Century (1978), and The Will Rogers Follies (1991).
  • Actress Anne Bancroft won Tony Awards for Two for the Seesaw (1958) and The Miracle Worker (1960). Her husband, Mel Brooks, won three Tonys in 2001 for The Producers, the new Mel Brooks musical. He took home medallions for Best Book of a Musical, Best Score, and Best Musical (as a producer).
  • In 1996, Zoe Caldwell won the Tony (her fourth) as Best Actress in a Play for her work in Master Class. The production was honored as that year's Best Play, which earned her husband, Robert Whitehead, his third Tony Award, as one of its producers.
  • Director, choreographer, and nine-time Tony-winner Bob Fosse was married to four-time Best Actress in a Musical winner Gwen Verdon.
Shaffer x 2
Twin brothers Peter Shaffer and the late Anthony Shaffer both won Tony Awards in the Best Play category. Anthony was honored for Sleuth (1971). Peter earned Tony Awards for Equus (1975) and Amadeus (1981).
Our One and Only
The only one-person play to win the Best Play Tony Award was I Am My Own Wife by Douglas Wright (2004). Its star, Jefferson Mays, also won a Tony that year, as Best Actor in a Play.
Tony and Oscar
Tony Award-winning Best Plays and Best Musicals that were turned into Academy Award-winning Best Pictures include My Fair Lady (Tony, 1957; Oscar, 1964), The Sound of Music (Tony 1960; Oscar 1965), A Man for All Seasons (Tony, 1962; Oscar, 1966), and Amadeus (Tony, 1981; Oscar, 1984). Though they were both based on the same notorious shipwreck, the 1997 Best Musical Titanic is not otherwise connected with the film of the same title that won the Best Picture award in the same year. The original Broadway production of Chicago didn't win any Tony Awards in 1976, but in 1997 a new production won the Tony as Best Revival, and an Oscar-winning Best Picture followed in 2002.
EGOTS: They're the Top
Only a few artists have won all four of the entertainment industry's top competitive honors: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards. The list of these multi-talented "EGOTs" includes:
  • Performers John Gielgud, Helen Hayes, Audrey Hepburn, and Rita Moreno
  • Director Mike Nichols
  • Composers Robert Lopez (won daytime Emmys), Richard Rodgers and Marvin Hamlisch
  • Orchestrator Jonathan Tunick
  • Performer/writer/composer/producer Mel Brooks
  • Performer/Producer Whoopi Goldberg (won daytime Emmys)
  • Producer Scott Rudin
  • James Earl Jones, Liza Minnelli, and Barbra Streisand have each won three of these awards and received a special, non-competitive version of the fourth.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber has won Tony, Oscar, and Grammy Awards, while his production company, Really Useful Films, has received an International Emmy Award.
Worth Waiting For
Worth Waiting For
Barbara Cook received her first Tony Award and nomination in 1958, for creating the role of Marian (the Librarian) Paroo in The Music Man. She was next nominated in 2010 for her performance in Sondheim on Sondheim. That’s a 52-year gap, the longest any individual has had to wait between nominations (though in the interim, she starred in the 2002 revue Barbara Cook in Mostly Sondheim, which earned a nomination as Best Special Theatrical Event for the show’s producers). Cook beat out Jane Fonda, who received her first nomination in 1960 and her second 49 years later, in 2009.
Life Imitates Art
Past Tony-winners Michael Cerveris and Donna Murphy were both Tony-nominated in 2007 for playing a pair of past Tony-winners. They starred in the musical LoveMusik, in which Cerveris played composer Kurt Weill (Best Score for Street Scene in 1947) and Murphy portrayed his wife, performer Lotte Lenya (Featured Actress in a Musical for Threepenny Opera, 1956).
Back for More
The only play to have won a Best Revival Tony in three different productions is Death of a Salesman, in 1984, 1999, and 2012. In addition, the original production of Arthur Miller's drama won the Best Play award in 1949.
What a Bargain!
Tickets to the first Tony Awards ceremony in 1947 cost $7.00 each. Given the event's overwhelming success, the price shot up the very next year, to $10.
When Broadway Babies Say Goodnight...
The first Tony ceremony began with supper at 9:00 p.m. at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Entertainment and dancing continued until midnight, at which time the awards were announced live over the radio.
Then and Now
Way Back When
During the first two years of the Tonys (1947 and 1948), there was no official Tony Award. The winners were presented with a scroll and, in addition, a money clip, a cigarette lighter (for the men) or a compact (for the women).
It Spins!
The Tony Award itself is a disk-shaped silver medallion with the masks of comedy and tragedy on one side and the profile of Antoinette Perry on the other. Since 1967 the medallion has been mounted on a curved armature atop a black pedestal.
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