Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 3rd...This Day in History

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A Streetcar Named Desire opens on Broadway 1947

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On this day in 1947, Marlon Brando’s famous cry of “STELLA!” first booms across a Broadway stage, electrifying the audience at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre during the first-ever performance of Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire.
The 23-year-old Brando played the rough, working-class Polish-American Stanley Kowalski, whose violent clash with Blanche DuBois (played on Broadway by Jessica Tandy), a Southern belle with a dark past, is at the center of Williams’ famous drama. Blanche comes to stay with her sister Stella (Kim Hunter), Stanley’s wife, at their home in the French Quarter of New Orleans; she and Stanley immediately despise each other. In the climactic scene, Stanley rapes Blanche, causing her to lose her fragile grip on sanity; the play ends with her being led away in a straitjacket.
Streetcar, produced by Irene Mayer Selznick and directed by Elia Kazan, shocked mid-century audiences with its frank depiction of sexuality and brutality onstage. When the curtain went down on opening night, there was a moment of stunned silence before the crowd erupted into a round of applause that lasted 30 minutes. On December 17, the cast left New York to go on the road. The show would run for more than 800 performances, turning the charismatic Brando into an overnight star. Tandy won a Tony Award for her performance, and Williams was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
In 1951, Kazan made Streetcar into a movie. Brando, Hunter and Karl Malden (as Stanley’s friend and Blanche’s love interest) reprised their roles. The role of Blanche went to Vivien Leigh, the scenery-chewing star of Gone with the Wind. Controversy flared when the Catholic Legion of Decency threatened to condemn the film unless the explicitly sexual scenes–including the climactic rape–were removed. When Williams, who wrote the screenplay, refused to take out the rape, the Legion insisted that Stanley be punished onscreen. As a result, the movie (but not the play) ends with Stella leaving Stanley.
A Streetcar Named Desire earned 12 Oscar nominations, including acting nods for each of its four leads. The movie won for Best Art Direction, and Leigh, Hunter and Malden all took home awards; Brando lost to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen.

 (More Events on This Day in History)
  • American Revolution

  • 1776 Washington arrives at the banks of the Delaware
  • Automotive

  • 1979 Last AMC Pacer rolls off assembly line
  • Civil War

  • 1826 George McClellan born
  • Cold War

  • 1989 Bush and Gorbachev suggest Cold War is coming to an end
  • Crime

  • 1989 The clothes make the man . . . guilty
  • Disaster

  • 1984 Explosion kills 2,000 at pesticide plant
  • General Interest

  • 1912 First Balkan War ends
  • 1967 First human heart transplant
  • 1984 The Bhopal-Union Carbide disaster
  • Hollywood

  • 1948 Heavy-metal legend Ozzy Osbourne born
  • Literary

  • 1857 Joseph Conrad’s birthday
  • Music

  • 1979 Eleven people killed in a stampede outside Who concert in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Old West

  • 1818 Illinois becomes the 21st state
  • Presidential

  • 1839 Lincoln reaches legal milestone
  • Sports

  • 1979 Indian field hockey gold medalist Dhyan Chand dies
  • Vietnam War

  • 1962 Report maintains that Viet Cong are prepared for a long war
  • 1965 Memorandum outlines terms for bombing halt
  • World War I

  • 1916 Nivelle replaces Joffre as French commander
  • World War II

  • 1944 Civil war breaks out in Athens

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