Viewing page 5 of 27

[[image: photo of Leonard Lyons]]
Lyons and Tonys

by leonard lyons

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks to television, most of us know what a good show the Tony Award Presentations can be - big stars giving moving performances in a plot that features suspense and comedy, triumph and tragedy.... Why not, we wondered, give out awards for the Tonys themselves? And could there be a better one-man selection committee than Broadway columnist Leonard Lyons, who over the years has seen a lot of Antoinette Perry medals reach a lot of eager little hands? The result of all this idle speculation: Lyons Awards to Tony Winners (and Losers).... P.S. If you want to play this game too, be sure to watch NBC on April 19 at 10 for this year's Tonys.

[[image: headshot photo of Judy Holliday]]
Best Actress to Judy Holliday
My award in this category has to go to the late Judy Holliday who, when she was starring in Bells Are Ringing, asked if I would escort her to the Tony Awards. In those days (1957) Tony winners were selected by mysterious voters in a puzzling process reminiscent of Korean elections. And to make sure the recipients would attend the ceremonies, they were generally notified in advance . . . "So, Judy," I warned, "unless you've been notified that you've won...." Miss Holliday interrupted me: "Pick me up at 8 o'clock." ... And yet when she mounted the stage to make her acceptance speech, Judy Holliday gave the most convincing performance I've ever seen at the Tony Awards - "The longest moment in my life," said Miss Holliday, "was when I heard the gentleman say 'The winner is Ju-dy, and not Ju-lie.'" (The competition was Julie Andrews for My Fair Lady.)

[[image: photo of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton]]

Best Actor to Richard Burton
Although in 1961 Richard Burton won a Tony Award for Camelot, his finest performance at a Tony Award Ceremony was in 1964 when he was nominated for Hamlet, but lost out to Sir Alec Guinness in Dylan. "I do not find it amusing," said Burton, "that I, a Welshman, in a play by an Englishman, lost to an Englishman playing a Welshman." ... Guinness later walked over to Burton's table and offered 

[[end page]]
[[start page]]

[[image: photo of stage at Tony Awards show]]
[[caption]] Alexander Cohen at the 1969 Tony Awards [[/caption]]

him the Tony, but Sidney Michaels, the author of Dylan, intervened. "Mr. Burton," Michaels told the star of Shakespeare's Hamlet, "Alec won it because, for one thing, Alec had the better play."

Special Award 
Producers Alexander Cohen and David Merrick

These two gentlemen, more than anyone else, deserve the credit for making the Tony Awards the honest, respected, well-publicized affair it is today....Cohen arranged for the Tonys to be televised, switched the ceremony from a hotel banquet room to a Broadway theatre, insisted on making it a black-tie event (without exceptions - even the TV Camera Crew and Stagehands must wear dinner jackets). His showmanship as producer of the telecasts succeeded in giving competition, for the first time, to Hollywood's Academy Awards... Merrick, for his part, was indirectly responsible for reforming the voting requirements for the Awards. At one time, only members of the American Theatre Wing were permitted a vote - that is, until David Merrick, calculating the cost of a membership and the number of votes needed, warned: "For $3,000 you can buy a clean sweep of the Tonys."

[[image: photo of Mary Martin in ball gown]]
Best Costume Designer
to Mary Martin's Dressmaker
Whoever designed Mary Martin's gown for the award presentations in 1960 deserves this award for showing a high degree of ESP. Miss Martin, who had been nominated for The Sound of Music, appeared in a dress so stunning that one observer was prompted to remark: "Mary must have known she'd won. No one wears a gown like that to be a loser...." (Speaking of costumes, the most informal attire worn by a winner was the simple dark skirt and jacket worn by Sandy Dennis when she collected her Tony for A Thousand Clowns. She explained that she thought "Black Tie" meant that only the men had to dress.) 

7  [[image: right-pointing arrow]]
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact