In 1999

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In 1999
In 1999 cover.png
Cover page
Written byWilliam C. deMille
CharactersJean, Rollo, Florence
Date premiered1912 (1912)
Original languageEnglish
GenreOne-act play

In 1999 is a 1912 one-act comedic short play by William C. deMille, originally produced by Jesse L. Lasky, that was popular upon its release. Its gags are based on a future where gender roles are reversed.


The piece debuted at the Fifth Avenue Theatre on Broadway in New York City on February 5, 1912, and starred Florence Nash, Joseph W. Jefferson (son of Joseph Jefferson),[1] and Minnette Barrett.[2][3][4][5] The sketch was performed for a number of years in theatres throughout the United States.[6]

Considered a satire of the popular problem plays of the day, the sketch is set in 1999 and portrays a world of the future where women and men have reversed roles from 1912, with husbands performing domestic chores and the women spending time at their clubs, and tells the tale of a love triangle with the typical speeches reversed by gender. It proved particularly popular with female audience members.[7][8][9]


The sketch was also popular enough to be stolen and fought over. Variety magazine reported in July 1912 that "the Meymotts" had copied the play, after Lasky has rejected an offer for the English rights, and presented it England under the title In the Future, and also copyrighted it there first.[10][11]

Iza Hampton Barnes, an actress, also sued Lasky, deMille, and the three actors, claiming In 1999 was stolen from her sketch titled The Woman of Tomorrow.[12][13] DeMille's defense to Barnes' suit claimed that the gender-reversal concept existed in "numerous writings and compositions" predating 1910, and that In 1999 was first written by de Mille while he was in college in 1899, and named Rollo.[14]


  1. ^ (2 May 1919). Joseph W. Jefferson Dies; Son of the Famous Actor Starred Years Ago in "The Rivals", The New York Times
  2. ^ (6 February 1912). Mock Problem Play is Rich in Satire - Mr. de Mille's "In 1999" Shows What May Happen if Woman Has Her Way, The New York Times
  3. ^ Grau, Robert. The Stage in the Twentieth Century: Third Volume, p. 280 (1912)
  4. ^ (10 February 1912). Review, Variety
  5. ^ (9 March 1912). The Feminists Break into Vaudeville, Collier's, p. 46
  6. ^ deMille, William C. Hollywood Saga, p. 130 (1939) ("which was played for years all over the country by Joseph Jefferson, the younger, with Florence Nash and Minette Barrett.... my first production for Jesse L. Lasky ...")
  7. ^ Kibler, M. Alison. Rank Ladies: Gender and Cultural Hierarchy in American Vaudeville, p. 48-49 (1999)
  8. ^ Bleiler, Everett F. Science-fiction, the Early Years, p. 190 (1990)
  9. ^ (14 May 1912). In "1999" Not So Good, Brooklyn Eagle, p. 15, col. 3
  10. ^ (5 July 1912). Protection from "Thieves" Need by American Acts, Variety, p. 6
  11. ^ (15 June 1912). "1999" "Copy" A Hit, Variety, p. 2, col. 2
  12. ^ (20 December 1912). Play Theft is Charged Again, The Sun (New York), p. 9, col. 5.
  13. ^ (15 June 1912). Injunction for In 1999, Variety, p. 3, col. 3
  14. ^ (13 September 1912). Lasky's Defense, Variety, p. 8, col. 1

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