The 94 Years Of Kitty Carlisle Hart

She played opposite the Marx Brothers in A Night at the Opera and hasn’t slowed down since

 
 
 

Eternally glamorous, effortlessly vivacious, and impossibly beautiful, Kitty Carlisle Hart has crammed at least eight notable lives into her eventful 94 years.

 
 
Kitty Carlisle, photographed by Carl Van Vechten in 1933.
 
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Oklahoma!

It opened fifty years ago and changed Broadway forever

Only in retrospect does it seem surprising that there were empty seats in the St. James Theatre the night Oklahoma! opened, on March 31, 1943. Read more »

Lullaby Of Tin Pan Alley

The ceaseless clatter of cheap pianos from a mid-Manhattan side street was once music to all America

ONE DAY IN 1922 a young would-be composer named Richard Rodgers paid a call on Max Dreyfus, head of the publishing firm of T. B. Harms and dean of Tin Pan Alley. Rodgers had been there before; three years earlier, Max’s brother Louis had shown him the door, saying, “Keep going to high school and come back some other time.” This time, however, Max himself granted him an audience. “This ascetic-looking titan of the music business sat with eyes half-closed as I played my songs,” wrote Rodgers in his autobiography.Read more »

Fair Comment

Americans don’t hesitate to say anything they please about a public performance. But the right to do so wasn’t established until the Cherry Sisters sued a critic who didn’t like their appalling vaudeville act.

The year 1896 found Oscar Hammerstein in trouble. He was in debt, and the acts he had brought to Broadway weren’t doing well. He was desperate. “I’ve tried the best,” he is reported to have said. “Now I’ll try the worst.” So he sent for the Cherry Sisters. Effie, Addie, Jessie, Lizzie, and Ella Cherry clearly were the worst act of the day. They couldn’t dance, and they couldn’t sing. In fact, they couldn’t do anything at all. Except draw crowds. Read more »