Thursday, July 8, 2010


Hat tip to Lynne Sherwin for passing along this item, from a column by Mark J. Price:
Denver playwright Mary Chase won a Pulitzer Prize in 1945 for Harvey, a whimsical tale about Elwood P. Dowd, a perpetually intoxicated fellow who may or may not be best friends with a giant bunny.
Broadway crowds lined up to see Harvey, which is kind of funny since Harvey couldn't be seen.
The offbeat comedy starring Frank Fay opened to rave reviews and sold-out shows Nov. 1, 1944, at the 48th Street Theatre in New York. It had a remarkable run of 1,775 performances over four years.
For Ohio residents who were lucky enough to get tickets, the humor hit close to home.
The script has many references to Akron. . . .
In the play, Elwood P. Dowd's grasp on sanity is a subject of debate. He holds one-sided conversations with his rabbit pal and introduces the invisible creature to puzzled strangers. Dowd's sister, Veta Simmons, wants to have her brother committed to a mental institution.
Dr. Chumley, operator of the local asylum, quizzes Dowd about the giant rabbit.
Harvey has the power to stop time in its tracks, Dowd says. The psychiatrist can travel anywhere he wants for as long he wants, and when he wishes to return, no time will have elapsed, Dowd says.
"I'd go to Akron," Chumley says wistfully.
The doctor confesses that his fantasy is to sit under an Akron tree, drink Akron beer and chat with a beautiful Akron woman for two weeks.
Would the rabbit allow it?
"I have never heard Harvey say a word against Akron," Dowd replies.
The dialogue had special meaning to Harvey cast member Jesse White [pictured, left, with Fay, seated, and two other cast members], who originated the role of Wilson, the orderly at Chumley's hospital. White grew up in Akron. (end column)

By the way, White also appeared in the 1950 movie version which starred James Stewart.

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