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This Day in History - May 15

'Annie Get Your Gun' opened on Broadway.
Video | May 15, 2017 | By Jonathan Shipley


On this day, at the Imperial Theatre in 1946, Annie Get Your Gun opened on Broadway. Starring Ethel Merman as Annie Oakley, it would be a smash hit, running for nearly three years with over 1,100 performances. It would later become a movie in 1950 and have several Broadway revivals, including one in 1966 where Merman reprised her role. 

The show, with music and lyrics by the legendary Irving Berlin, is about the sharp-shooting country girl Annie Oakley who becomes a star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show - much to the consternation of the man she loves but can out-shoot, Frank Butler. Annie Oakley, of course, was a real person, as was Buffalo Bill Cody, as was Frank Butler. Songs from the show that became hits include "There's No Business Like Show Business," "They Say It's Wonderful," and "Anything You Can Do." 

The 1950 movie was a hit, as well, garnering three Academy Award nominations. Annie Oakley was played by Betty Hutton. Judy Garland was originally cast in the title role but was fired after a month of filming because of clashes with the director and repeatedly showing up late to work, or not at all. Also, Frank Morgan was cast as Buffalo Bill Cody. Morgan was the wizard the movie, The Wizard of Oz. He died, however, of a heart attack shortly after shooting the film's opening production number and was replaced by Louis Calhern.

Other actors who have played Annie Oakley in the show include Debbie Reynolds, Bernadette Peters and Cheryl Ladd, amongst others.

Ethel Merman being interviewed and singing a medley from the show:

Bernadette Peters:

"There's No Business Like Show Business":