George Abbott

George Abbott

Infobox Playwright
colour = #d9d9ff
name = George Abbott

caption =
birth_date = birth date|1887|6|25
birth_place = Forestville, New York
death_date = dda|1995|1|31|1887|6|25
death_place = Miami Beach, Florida
nationality = United States
period =
genre =
debut_works = "The Fall Guy" (1925)
magnum_opus = "Damn Yankees" (1955), "Fiorello!" (1959)
collaborator = Jerome Weidman, Richard Rodgers
ploys =
spouse = Ednah Levis (1914–1930)
Mary Sinclair (1946–1952)
Joy Valderrama (1983–1995)
partner =
children = Judith Abbot
relations =
influences =
influenced =
awards = Tony Award for Best Musical ("The Pajama Game", 1955)
Tony Award for Best Musical ("Damn Yankees", 1956)
Tony Award for Best Musical ("Fiorello!", 1960)
Pulitzer Prize for Drama ("Fiorello!", 1960)
Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical ("Fiorello!", 1960)
Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical ("A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", 1963)
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical ("On Your Toes", 1983)
Special Tony Award (1987)
footnotes =

George Francis Abbott (June 25, 1887 - January 31, 1995) was an American theater producer and director, playwright, screenwriter, and film director and producer whose career spanned more than seven decades.


Early life

Abbott was born in Forestville, New York, near the town of Salamanca, which twice elected his father mayor. In 1898 his family moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he attended Kearney Military Academy. Within a few years his family returned to New York, and he graduated from Hamburg High School in 1907. Four years later he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Rochester, where he wrote his first play, "Perfectly Harmless", for the University Dramatic Club.

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


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 his first successful play being "The Fall Guy" (1925). He worked in Hollywood as a writer and director while continuing with his theater work. Among those who crossed paths with Abbott early in their careers are Desi Arnaz, Gene Tierney, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, Bob Fosse, Stephen Sondheim, John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Liza Minnelli.

Abbott acquired a reputation as an astute "show doctor." He frequently was called upon to supervise changes when a show was having difficulties in tryouts or previews prior to its Broadway opening.

Abbott married his first wife Ednah Levis in 1914. They had a daughter Judith, who became an actress and married actor Tom Ewell in 1946. Ednah died in 1930 and Abbott married Mary Sinclair in April 1946; they divorced in 1951. On November 21, 1983, five months past his 96th birthday, he married Joy Valderrama.

In 1965, the 54th Street Theatre was rechristened the George Abbott Theater in his honor. The building was demolished in 1970. New York's George Abbott Way, the section of West 45th Street northwest of Times Square, is also named in his honour.

Abbott died of a stroke in Miami Beach, four months and three weeks short of his 108th birthday. "The New York Times" obituary read, "Mrs. Abbott said that a week and a half before his death he was dictating revisions to the second act of "Pajama Game" with a revival in mind. Last year, at a mere 106 years old, he walked down the aisle on opening night of the "Damn Yankees" revival and received a standing ovation. He was heard saying to his companion, "There must be somebody important here."

Abbott is one of the most admired men in the history of Broadway and has been inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.



* 1915: "The Yeomen of the Guard" (actor)
* 1918: "Daddies" (actor)
* 1920: "The Broken Wing" (actor)
* 1923: "Zander the Great" (actor)
* 1925: "The Fall Guy" (playwright)
* 1926: "Love 'em and Leave 'em " (playwright, director)
* 1926: "Chicago" (director)
* 1926: "Broadway" (playwright, director)
* 1928: "Gentlemen of the Press" (director)
* 1932: "Lilly Turner" (playwright, director, producer)
* 1932: "Twentieth Century" (director, producer)
* 1935: "Jumbo" (director)
* 1936: "On Your Toes" (book writer)
* 1937: "Room Service" (director, producer)
* 1938: "The Boys from Syracuse" (book writer, director, producer)
* 1939: "Too Many Girls" (director, producer)
* 1940: "Pal Joey" (director, producer)
* 1944: "On the Town" (director)
* 1947: "High Button Shoes" (director)
* 1948: "Where's Charley?" (book writer, director)
* 1949: "Mrs. Gibbons' Boys" (producer, director)
* 1950: "Call Me Madam" (director)
* 1951: "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (book writer, director, producer)
* 1953: "Wonderful Town" (director)
* 1954: "The Pajama Game" (book writer, director)
* 1955: "Damn Yankees" (book writer, director)
* 1957: "New Girl in Town" (book writer, director)
* 1959: "Once Upon a Mattress" (director)
* 1959: "Fiorello!" (book writer, director)
* 1960: "Tenderloin" (book writer, director)
* 1962: "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" (director)
* 1964: "Fade Out - Fade In" (director)
* 1965: "Flora, The Red Menace" (book writer, director)
* 1965: "Anya" (book writer, director)
* 1967: "How Now, Dow Jones" (director)
* 1968: "The Education of H* Y* M* A* N K* A* P* L* A* N" (director)
* 1976: "Music Is" (book writer, director)


* 1918: "The Imposter" (actor, director)
* 1929: "Coquette" (screenwriter)
* 1929: "Why Bring That Up?" (director, producer)
* 1930: "All Quiet on the Western Front" (screenwriter)
* 1930: "Manslaughter" (director, screenwriter)
* 1931: "Secrets of a Secretary" (director, producer)
* 1938: "Room Service" (producer)
* 1945: "Kiss and Tell" (producer)
* 1957: "The Pajama Game" (screenwriter, director, producer)
* 1958: "Damn Yankees" (screenwriter, director, producer)

Awards and nominations

* 1955 Tony Award for Best Musical – "The Pajama Game"
* 1956 Tony Award for Best Musical – "Damn Yankees"
* 1960 Pulitzer Prize for Drama – "Fiorello!"
* 1960 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – "Fiorello!"
* 1960 Tony Award for Best Musical – "Fiorello!"
* 1963 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"
* 1976 Special Tony Award: The Lawrence Langer Award
* 1982 Kennedy Center Honors
* 1983 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – "On Your Toes"
* 1987 Special Tony Award on the occasion of his 100th birthday

* 1930 Academy Award for Best Achievement in Writing – "All Quiet on the Western Front"
* 1958 Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical – "Damn Yankees"
* 1958 Tony Award for Best Musical – "New Girl in Town"
* 1958 Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical – "The Pajama Game"
* 1959 Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures – "Damn Yankees"
* 1963 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play – "Never Too Late"
* 1968 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – "How Now, Dow Jones"



External links

* [ George Abbot fansite]

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