Pipe Night on Broadway?
The headline reads: “Audra McDonald Honored with Pipe Night at The Players” Pipe night? Sounds like fun, and it probably was, but it surely wasn‘t the pipe night that you and I think of. But it used to be.
Audra McDonald is a Grammy and Tony Award winning theater actress and singer born in Berlin, Germany in 1970. She has graces the stages in New York and the world for years starring in such hits as Porgy and Bess, Ragtime, and Carousel just to name a few of the many. Worthy of celebration, her career was honored on October 21st with a “Pipe Night” at the Players Club. Audra was the 100th recipient of such an evening, and the first since one given to Sir Roger Moore in 2010.
In 1888, Edwin Booth, America’s pre-eminent Shakespearean actor, and 15 others including society men such as Mark Twain, and Civil War General and good friend of President Grant – William Tecumseh Sherman, founded The Players. Edwin Booth is actually accredited with saving the life of President Lincoln’s son Robert from serious injury or even death during a potential tragedy on a New Jersey rail platform. Tragically, despite being one of the most decorated and acclaimed actors of his day, Edwin Booth will instead be forever remembered for being the older brother of the man who assassinated the father of the boy he risked his life to save, Abraham Lincoln. Yes, Edwin Booth is John Wilkes Booth’s older brother.
The purpose of the Players Club when established was:
“the promotion of social intercourse between members of the dramatic profession and the kindred professions of literature, painting, architecture, sculpture and music, law and medicine, and the patrons of the arts. By 1936, Pipe Nights had evolved into testimonials honoring artists for their contributions to the American Stage. Though pipes are now forbidden, the tradition continues. Past recipients of Pipe Nights include Charlie Chaplin, John Barrymore, Frank Sinatra, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, and more.”
Unless you are a theater buff, the Pipe Night probably has little thrill to you. However, it is an excellent example of the tradition of Pipe Smokers, their well respected place in society, and the civil morality that we all stand for permeating even today’s anti-tobacco Americana. Use this example to ber proud to be a piper!
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