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George Abbott
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    (June 25, 1887-January 31, 1995)
    Born in Forestville, New York
    Theatrical actor, playwright, director and producer
    Received Tony Awards for directing the musicals 'Fiorello!' (1960) and 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum' (1963)
    Also directed 'Broadway' (1926), 'Twentieth Century' (1932), 'Jumbo' (1935), 'The Boys from Syracuse' (1938), 'Pal Joey' (1940), 'On the Town' (1944), 'Where's Charley?' (1948), 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' (1951), 'The Pajama Game' (1954), 'Damn Yankees' (1955), 'Once Upon a Mattress' (1959), 'How Now, Dow Jones' (1967) and 'Music Is' (1976)
    Nicknamed 'Mr. Broadway'
    He said he was not a successful playwright 'until I took parasitical advantage of other people's ideas.'
    He was one of the biggest tightwads on Broadway, with one actor saying that his idea of a treat was to invite someone out to a restaurant, order coffee, then suggest going Dutch.
    He said, 'I must confess that one of my main defects as a director has always been an incurable impatience.'
    His third wife was four decades younger than him.
    The George Abbott Theater was torn down only five years after being renamed in his honor (1965-70).
    For a 30+ year stretch (1935-68), he always had at least one play on Broadway as a writer or director; at times, he had as many as five running.
    He gave the first big breaks to Shirley MacLaine, Jose Ferrer, Carol Burnett, Jerome Robbins, Hal Prince, Bob Fosse and Leonard Bernstein.
    When Stanley Prager, the star of 'The Pajama Game,' was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the McCarthy era, he refused to join the blacklist and signed Prager to a long-term contract.
    At 82, he had an affair with actress Maureen Stapleton who declared, 'He is sensational in every way.'
    At 106, he produced a Broadway revival of 'Damn Yankees.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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