Today in History: Dec. 27

Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, a play by J. M. Barrie, made its theater debut on this date in 1904 at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London.

It introduced audiences to Neverland, Peter Pan, Wendy Darling and her brothers, Captain Hook, the Lost Boys, and Tinker Bell. (A playbill from the first production is at top.)

The play evolved from bedtime stories Barrie told a friend’s children. Barrie gave the play a draft title, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Hated Mothers, but the producer so disliked the subtitle that he demanded a new one. Barrie offered The Boy Who Couldn’t Grow Up, so the producer requested that he change Couldn’t to Wouldn’t, which Barrie allowed, and the new name stuck.

The play was an instant hit. A production opened on Broadway in 1905, the first film version was made in the silent era, and the characters and story have been with us ever since this date in 1904.

Barrie revisited the characters regularly, and wrote a children’s novel, Peter and Wendy, in 1911.

* * * *
Dian Fossey was murdered on this date in 1985. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated nine years ago today.

* * * *
Louis Pasteur was born on this date in 1822. Marlene Dietrich was born in 1901 on this date. The late Scotty Moore was born on this date in 1931. (He died on June 28.) Chyna was born on this date in 1969. (She died on April 20.)

* * * *
John Amos is 77. Cokie Roberts is 73. Gerard Depardieu is 68. Tovah Feldshuh is 63.

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