Donald Brian

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b. 17 February 1877, St. John’s, Newfoundland, d. 22 December 1948, Great Neck, New York, USA. An actor, dancer, and singer, who is usually described by those who saw him as ‘handsome, with a round,…
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b. 17 February 1877, St. John’s, Newfoundland, d. 22 December 1948, Great Neck, New York, USA. An actor, dancer, and singer, who is usually described by those who saw him as ‘handsome, with a round, dimpled face and wavy hair.’ After moving to the USA, Brian played in a few straight and musical provincial productions, including The Chaperons, before making his first musical appearances on Broadway at the Winter Garden on the roof of the New York Theatre in two frothy confections, The Supper Club (1901) and The Belle Of Broadway (1902). He also played Captain Arthur Donegal in the 1902 revival of Floradora before being noticed by the great showman George M. Cohan, who gave Brian good roles in Little Johnny Jones (1904) and Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway (1906). After enjoying a personal triumph as the young attaché Prince Danilo, co-starring with Ethel Jackson in the legendary operetta The Merry Widow (1907), Brian went on to star in a string of mostly successful musicals, three of them in the company of Julia Sanderson, The Siren (1911), The Girl From Utah (1914, in which the duo introduced Jerome Kern and Herbert Reynolds’ enduring ‘They Didn’t Believe Me’), and Sybil (1916). The remainder included The Dollar Princess (1909), The Marriage Market (1913), Her Regiment (1917), The Girl Behind The Gun (1918), Buddies (1919), The Chocolate Soldier (1921, revival), Up She Goes (1922), No, No, Nanette (1926, US tour), Castles In The Air (1927, replacement), Yes, Yes, Yvette (1927), Music In The Air (1933, replacement), and Very Warm For May (1939, Kern’s final theatre score).