On Broadway on this day in 1956

Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle

Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle

My Fair Lady opened on Broadway on this day in 1956.

With book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, the story is based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.

My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who takes speech lessons from professor myfairladyHenry Higgins who vows to pass her off as a well-born lady.

Appearing in the original Broadway production were Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins and Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle. The show was an immediate hit and set a record for the longest run of any musical production in theater history at the time. Harrison and Andrews revived their roles for the West End London production in 1958.

The film version was made in 1964 with Harrison again in the role of Henry Higgins. But casting Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle was controversial. Those who had loved Andrews in the theater role believed she was perfect, but Warner Brothers Studio head Jack Warner thought the movie needed the star quality of Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn’s singing had to be dubbed by soprano Marni Nixon.

My Fair Lady won Best Picture in 1964, and Rex Harrison won Best Actor for his portryal of Henry Higgins.

Julie Andrews, on the other hand won Best Actress for her portrayal of Mary Poppins in what would become one of Disney’s most popular movies.

Audrey Hepburn was not nominated.

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