How Did the Tony Awards Get Their Name?

Tony Awards
Tony Awards

If you’re a fan of Broadway, you’ve probably wondered: Who is the Tony guy these awards are named after, anyway?

The Tony is question is actually a woman, and at first, she spelled it Toni. Antoinette Perry was born in Colorado in 1888, and got her start as an actress; she would go on to become a director and a producer—roles that, in her time, were usually held by men. She was also the co-founder and chairwoman of the American Theatre Wing, which puts on the Tonys with the Broadway League.

"When I was six," Perry once wrote, "I didn't say I'd become an actress. I felt I was one. No one could have convinced me I wasn't." She joined her uncle’s touring company when she was 15, and remained with it until 1905, when she came to New York and got a part in The Music Master and, later, A Grand Army Man. But despite her success, she left acting after she married an old beau, Denver businessman Frank Frueauff, in 1909. "Mother's literary and bohemian set clashed with father's conservative lifestyle," their daughter, Margaret, recalled to Playbill in 1998. "When she became pregnant with me, father persuaded her to quit theatre to raise a family." They settled in New York, and Perry became a full-time wife and mother.

But Perry just couldn't quit the theater. In 1920, she was approached by producer Brock Pemberton to become an investor in his production of Miss Lulu Bett, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Soon after, she became Pemberton’s silent partner, eventually getting her husband's blessing to continue investing in stage productions.

After Frueauff died in 1922, Perry returned to the stage, acting until 1927 when, according to her biography on the Tonys website, she suffered a stroke that paralyzed the left side of her face. In 1928, she took up directing, putting on 17 productions in 13 years. Eventually, she struck up a romantic relationship with the married Pemberton; they even shared an office. At night, “she came home, ate as she read scripts and saw we did our school work,” Margaret told Playbill. “Promptly at nine, Brock would phone and they'd talk for hours. They remained devoted friends until Mother’s death."

In addition to acting, directing and producing, Perry was also a philanthropist: She backed new playwrights, underwrote auditions for aspiring actors and actresses, and helped to open a national school for actors, where now-famous names like George Burns, Bob Fosse, Angela Lansbury, Charlton Heston, and Christopher Plummer studied. During World War II, Perry co-founded the Theatre Wing of Allied Relief, which would become the American Theatre Wing. The Wing sponsored 54 programs in New York and around the world during WWII, and established the Stage Door Canteen, where stars worked as waiters, dishwashers, and entertainers for servicemen.

When Perry passed away from a heart attack in June 1946, Warner Bros. story editor Jacob Wilk suggested that an award honoring achievement in theater be created in Perry’s name, and the Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre was born. “The thing he wanted to do the most for her was to make a yearly show that would keep her name alive in the American theatre,” Wilk’s son, Max, recalled in 2006. “He was darn good at doing it, too. [The Tonys] do keep her name alive, and they are important [for the theatre]. If my father were here, he'd feel good about that.”

The Tony came by its common name at the very first event, held at the Waldorf Astoria on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947. When he was presenting an award (then a scroll; the medallion was first given out in 1949), Pemberton called it a Tony.

Watch Kit Harington Gag After Having to Kiss Emilia Clarke on Game of Thrones

HBO
HBO

The romance between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen might be heating up on Game of Thrones (though that could change once Jon shares the truth about his parentage), but offscreen, Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke's relationship is decidedly platonic. The two actors have gotten to be close friends over the past near-10 years of working together, which makes their love scenes rather awkward, according to Harington.

A new video from HBO offers a behind-the-scene peek at "Winterfell," the first episode of Game of Thrones's final season. At about the 12:20 mark, there's a segment on Jon and Dany's date with the dragons and what it took to create that scene. Included within that is footage of the two actors kissing against a green screen background, which would later be turned into a stunning waterfall. But when the scene cuts, Harington can be seen faking a gag at having to kiss the Mother of Dragons.

“Emilia and I had been best friends over a seven-year period and by the time we had to kiss it seemed really odd,” Harington told The Mirror, then went on to explain that Clarke's close relationship with Harington's wife, Rose Leslie, makes the intimate scenes even more bizarre. "Emilia, Rose, and I are good friends, so even though you’re actors and it’s your job, there’s an element of weirdness when the three of us are having dinner and we had a kissing scene that day."

As strange as it may be, Harington finally came around and admitted that, "I love Emilia and I’ve loved working with her. And it’s not hard to kiss her, is it?"

[h/t Wiki of Thrones]

11 Surprising Facts About Prince

BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

It was three years ago today that legendary, genre-bending rocker Prince died at the age of 57. In addition to being a musical pioneer, the Minneapolis native dabbled in filmmaking, most successfully with 1984’s Purple Rain. While most people know about the singer’s infamous name change, here are 10 things you might not have known about the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.

1. His real name was Prince.

Born to two musical parents on June 7, 1958, Prince Rogers Nelson was named after his father's jazz combo.

2. He was a Jehovah's Witness.

Baptized in 2001, Prince was a devout Jehovah's Witness; he even went door-to-door. In October 2003, a woman in Eden Prairie, Minnesota opened her door to discover the famously shy artist and his bassist, former Sly and the Family Stone member Larry Graham, standing in front of her home. "My first thought is ‘Cool, cool, cool. He wants to use my house for a set. I’m glad! Demolish the whole thing! Start over!,'" the woman told The Star Tribune. "Then they start in on this Jehovah’s Witnesses stuff. I said, ‘You know what? You’ve walked into a Jewish household, and this is not something I’m interested in.’ He says, 'Can I just finish?' Then the other guy, Larry Graham, gets out his little Bible and starts reading scriptures about being Jewish and the land of Israel."

3. He wrote a lot of songs for other artists.

In addition to penning several hundred songs for himself, Prince also composed music for other artists, including "Manic Monday" for the Bangles, "I Feel For You" for Chaka Khan, and "Nothing Compares 2 U" for Sinéad O'Connor.

4. His symbol actually had a name.


Amazon

Even though the whole world referred to him as either "The Artist" or "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince," that weird symbol Prince used was actually known as "Love Symbol #2." It was copyrighted in 1997, but when Prince's contract with Warner Bros. expired at midnight on December 31, 1999, he announced that he was reclaiming his given name.

5. In 2017, Pantone gave him his own color.

A little over a year after Prince's death, global color authority Pantone created a royal shade of purple in honor of him, in conjunction with the late singer's estate. Appropriately, it is known as Love Symbol #2. The color was inspired by a Yamaha piano the musician was planning to take on tour with him. “The color purple was synonymous with who Prince was and will always be," Troy Carter, an advisor to Prince's estate, said. "This is an incredible way for his legacy to live on forever."

6. His sister sued him.

In 1987, Prince's half-sister, Lorna Nelson, sued him, claiming that she had written the lyrics to "U Got the Look," a song from "Sign '☮' the Times" that features pop artist Sheena Easton. In 1989, the court sided with Prince.

7. He ticked off a vice president's wife.

In 1984, after purchasing the Purple Rain soundtrack for her then-11-year-old daughter, Tipper Gore—ex-wife of former vice president Al Gore—became enraged over the explicit lyrics of "Darling Nikki," a song that references masturbation and other graphic sex acts. Gore felt that there should be some sort of warning on the label and in 1985 formed the Parents Music Resource Center, which pressured the recording industry to adopt a ratings system similar to the one employed in Hollywood. To Prince's credit, he didn't oppose the label system and became one of the first artists to release a "clean" version of explicit albums.

8. Prince took a promotional tip from Willy Wonka.

In 2006, Universal hid 14 purple tickets—seven in the U.S. and seven internationally—inside Prince's album, 3121. Fans who found a purple ticket were invited to attend a private performance at Prince's Los Angeles home.

9. He simultaneously held the number one spots for film, single, and album.

During the week of July 27, 1984, Prince's film Purple Rain hit number one at the box office. That same week, the film's soundtrack was the best-selling album and "When Doves Cry" was holding the top spot for singles.

10. He screwed up on SNL.

During Prince's first appearance on Saturday Night Live, he performed the song "Partyup" and sang the lyric, "Fightin' war is a such a f*ing bore." It went unnoticed at the time, but in the closing segment, Charles Rocket clearly said, "I'd like to know who the f* did it." This was the only episode of SNL where the f-bomb was dropped twice.

11. He scrapped an album released after having "a spiritual epiphany."

In 1987, Prince was due to release "The Black Album." However, just days before it was scheduled to drop, Prince scrapped the whole thing, calling it "dark and immortal." The musician claimed to have reached this decision following "a spiritual epiphany." Some reports say that it was actually an early experience with drug ecstasy, while others suggested The Artist just knew it would flop.

This story has been updated for 2019.

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