Dimming the lights on Broadway?
September 15, 2007 9:37 PM   Subscribe

BroadwayFilter: My Google-fu is failing me... When did the tradition of dimming the marquee lights on Broadway in mourning or as a sign of respect begin?

And who was the first person so honored? I found one "This Day in History" post from 1977 that said the lights were dimmed for Alfred Lunt, who had just passed away, and that that was only the third time such a tribute had been made. Any other info, such as the selection process as to who gets recognized, is appreciated as well.
posted by Oriole Adams to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
I haven't looked closely at the results, but this google search of wikipedia looks promising. At the very least it will give you a few people who've been honored.
posted by quixotic at 10:53 PM on September 15, 2007

I believe the first person to be so honored was Gertrude Lawrence, the originator of the role Anna Leonowens in the King and I.
posted by Vavuzi at 10:58 PM on September 15, 2007

A cursory glance at the links quixotic provided shows that the Broadway lights were dimmed for Al Jolson in 1950 and then for Oscar Hammerstein II in 1960, so you know for sure that those two were before Lunt.
posted by iconomy at 11:00 PM on September 15, 2007

I think I've heard George M. Cohan was the first. I haven't seen it in writing, but I think I heard it on PBS's Broadway: The American Musical.

I doubt Lunt was the third; I know lights were dimmed for Jolson and for Hammerstein (the Rodgers-and, not the producer), and they both died well before 1977. Do you remember exactly what the post said? Dimming the lights for a moment is more common than dimming them for, say, an hour.

On preview: Jolson died in 1950, so that was before Gertrude Lawrence, too.
posted by booksandlibretti at 11:02 PM on September 15, 2007

I just asked the question on All That Chat, where you will probably get a pretty definitive answer.

My actual post is here, but the thread will vanish in a few days.
posted by sueinnyc at 2:54 AM on September 16, 2007

Thanks, Sue!
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:11 AM on September 16, 2007

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