December 30 in history:

The deadliest theatre fire in U.S. history took more than 600 lives at the Iriquois Theatre in Chicago on December 30th, 1903.  Nearly two thousand people were attending a matinee in the reportedly “fireproof” building which had just opened a month earlier.  A piece of drapery had been ignited by a stage light, and flames spread toward the ceiling above the stage.  Many of the victims died in a rush toward exits which were locked, while other exits were not clearly marked.

A history-making musical opened at the New Century Theatre in New York on December 30th, 1948.  Kiss Me, Kate, Cole Porter’s version of The Taming of the Shrew, became the first show to win a Tony Award for Best Musical.

The musical Oliver! was up for nine Tony Awards in 1963, including a nomination for Davy Jones as the Artful Dodger.  A few years later, Jones was a star of TV and records, as one member of the made-for-TV band, the Monkees.  He was born on December 30th, 1945…three years to the day after the birth of fellow Monkee Michael Nesmith.

On this date in 1966, The Monkees’ recording of “I’m a Believer” by Neil Diamond was the number-one song on the Billboard chart.


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