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William Tabbert

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Biography

b. 5 October 1921, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Tabbert’s first Broadway credit was in Follow The Girls (1944), a musical with book by Guy Bolton and Eddie Davis, music by Dan Shapiro, and lyrics by Shapiro, Milton Pascal and Phil Charig. The show starred Gertrude Niesen and Jackie Gleason. Another newcomer on opening night was one of the dancers, Danny Aiello. Next, Tabbert was in the revue Seven Lively Arts (1944), which ran for 183 performances at the Ziegfeld Theatre. Produced by Billy Rose, the songs were by Cole Porter, book by George S. Kaufman and Ben Hecht, additional material by Moss Hart, ballet music by Igor Stravinsky, choreography by Anton Dolin, who also appeared on stage, musical staging by Jack Donohue, staging by Hassard Short. Among the huge opening night cast were Dolores Gray, Bert Lahr, Beatrice Lillie, ballet dancer Alicia Markova, Billie Worth, Nan Wynn, and a band led by Benny Goodman. Tabbert had two numbers, ‘Frahngee-Pahnee’ and ‘Only Another Boy And Girl’, joined on the latter by Mary Roche. Another large cast was assembled for Billion Dollar Baby (1945), which had a 221-performance run at the Alvin Theatre. Music was by Morton Gould, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Directed by George Abbott and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the show’s cast included Robert Chisholm, Helen Gallagher and Mitzi Green. As Rocky Barton, Tabbert sang ‘I’m Sure Of Your Love’ with Joan McCracken and ‘Bad Timing’ with Sydney Wylie. Next for Tabbert came South Pacific (1949), in which, in the role of Lt. Joseph Cable, he regularly stopped the show with his performance of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s ‘Younger Than Springtime’. His co-star was Betta St. John (Liat), while the cast was led by Mary Martin (Nellie Forbush), and Ezio Pinza (Emile de Becque). Also in the cast were Juanita Hall and Myron McCormick, the latter appearing in every one of the show’s remarkable 1, 925 performances. Also successful, although inevitably not on the same scale, was Fanny (1954), which ran for 888 performances. The book was by S.N. Behrman and Joshua Logan from Marcel Pagnol’s films, music and lyrics by Harold Rome. Directed by Logan, the opening night principals with Tabbert were Pinza, Florence Henderson and Walter Slezak. Tabbert’s smooth and rich singing voice can be heard on original cast albums and several other records he made during his career.

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