Almanac: Mary Martin, Broadway's Peter Pan

Mary Martin won a Tony Award as Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, and repeated her performance on national television in the 1950s.
NBC

(CBS News)  And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: December 1st, 1913, 100 years ago today . . . the birthday of a singer and actress who played the boy who never grew old.

Mary Martin was born that day in small-town Texas.

Nicknamed "Audition Mary" for her persistence in seeking roles, Mary Martin wowed Broadway in 1938 with her rendition of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," in Cole Porter's "Leave It to Me."

In 1949, she made the cover of Life magazine for her starring role in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "South Pacific."

Then, in 1954 another Broadway opening: the title role in the musical version of "Peter Pan," performed three times on TV, most recently in 1960.

I'm flying!
Look at me, way up high,
Suddenly, here am I, 
I'm fly-ing!

Peter Pan's nemesis Captain Hook was played by Cyril Ritchard, who by coincidence was ALSO born on December 1st . . . in 1897.

Martin and Ritchard both won Tony Awards for their roles in "Peter Pan," and in time went on to other projects, most notably Martin's star turn as Maria in the original Broadway production of "The Sound of Music" in 1959.

Martin (who by the way is the mother of "Dallas" star Larry Hagman) went on to receive Kennedy Center Honors In 1989, the year before her death -- and in an interview recalled her famous Neverland role: "I will always be Peter Pan. I have a vision of wanting to fly out of Madison Square Garden at the end."

And though Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard are now both long gone, countless members of the generation that grew up in the 1950s and '60s still fondly remember watching their television portrayals of Peter Pan and Captain Hook.

Theirs are performances that never grow old. 


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