Memorable lines from Playbill
-30- BY 1908, a list of credits for products and props used in the show started to appear, a feature still found in today's Playbill. The programme for Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.'s production of ''The Parisian Model,'' starring his wife, Anna Held, contained 16 lines of plugs, such as:
The chorus uses the celebrated RICHARDSON skates, manufactured in the Richardson Ball Bearing Skate Company of Chicago.
The program for Jerome Kern's delightful musical ''Oh, Boy!'' (1917) contained this patriotic note:
Every male member of the ''Oh, Boy!'' company has fulfilled all obligations in respect to military service.
More plays were produced on Broadway in the 1920s than ever before - or ever since. About 75 legitimate theaters were operating, and during the season of 1928 there were 264 openings - a record that has never been broken.
The zaniness of the flapper years is reflected in theater programs of that era. The main cast page for a show at the Lyric Theatre, 1921, reads thus:
Herself presents Nora Bayes in Her Family Tree with Frank Morgan.
Names to spot in the chorus line of 1920s programs (who later became stars) included Jeannette MacDonald in Jerome Kern's ''The Night Boat'' (1920); Miriam Hopkins in Irving Berlin's ''Music Box Revue'' (1921); Portland Hoffa (Mrs. Fred Allen) in the Eddie Cantor revue ''Make It Snappy'' (1922); Lucille Le Sueur (Joan Crawford) in the Shubert revue, ''The Passing Show of 1924,'' in which she appeared as ''Miss Labor Day'' in one number and ''A Beaded Bag'' in another.
Collectors had a field day in the 1930s, when the Playbill covers offered distinctive portraits of the show's stars . . . or a vivid scene from the play. There was the entire cast of ''Grand Hotel'' (1930) on the program cover, assembled in the hotel's luxurious lobby; the fetching sight of Gertrude Lawrence in her Molyneux pajamas . . . gazing across a table at Noel Coward in a silk dressing gown . . . in ''Private Lives'' (1931); the regal Katharine Cornell in a cameo in her greatest hit, ''The Barretts of Wimpole Street'' (1931 ).
A real collector's item is the Playbill for ''Fair Game'' (1957), costarring Sam Levene and Ellen MacRae. Who's Ellen MacRae? Another name for the later, better-known Ellen Burstyn (now president of Actors' Equity Association).
The 1960s began with two Camelots - one in the White House starring Jack and Jacqueline Kennedy, the other on Broadway starring Richard Burton and Julie Andrews.
The nostalgia craze began in the 1960s, and in Playbill it was initiated in the December 1966 issue with an article by actress Margalo Gilmore on her memories of a play she had starred in 30 years before: Clare Boothe Luce's ''The Women.'' Gerard Willem van Loon wrote a memorable account of World War II theater in London, ''Coward Tops the Bombs,'' in which he recounted perilous nights as a theatergoer in wartime London with rockets exploding over the theater as a character in a Noel Coward comedy had to say, on cue, ''My - that was a close one.''
Some surprises in 1960s programs: Elliott Gould played an usher and a priest in the musical ''Irma La Douce'' (1960); Valerie Harper and Michael Bennett were in the chorus line of ''Subways Are for Sleeping'' (1961); Barbra Streisand's biography for her Broadway debut in ''I Can Get It for You Wholesale'' (1962) gushed that she was born in Madagascar, reared in Rangoon, and educated at Erasmus High School in Brooklyn; Donna McKechnie (the original Cassie in ''A Chorus Line'') was in the chorus of ''How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying'' (1961).
Frank V. Strauss would undoubtedly approve of the modern counterpart of the magazine programme he started back in 1884. Playbill has come a long way since a play's title and credits were surrounded by program notes such as this one that appeared in a 1903 programme for ''The Little Duchess,'' a musical starring Anna Held:
Owing to the length of the performance, the plot has been eliminated.