Mister Roberts (play)
Henry Fonda and Robert Burton, 1950
|Written by||Thomas Heggen
Joshua Logan (play)
|Characters||Lieutenant Doug Roberts
Lieutenant Ann Girard
Shore Patrol Officer
|Date premiered||18 February 1948|
|Place premiered||Alvin Theatre|
|Setting||World War II; aboard the USS Reluctant in the South Pacific|
The novel began as a collection of short stories about Heggen's experiences aboard the USS Virgo (AKA-20) in the South Pacific during World War II. Broadway producer Leland Hayward acquired the rights for the play and hired Heggen and Joshua Logan for the adaptation.
Mister Roberts opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on February 18, 1948, starring Henry Fonda, David Wayne, Robert Keith and Jocelyn Brando who replaced Eva Marie Saint before the show opened. Logan's brother-in-law, William Harrigan, played the Captain. The original production also featured Harvey Lembeck, Ralph Meeker, Steven Hill, Lee Van Cleef and Murray Hamilton. Fonda got out of a Hollywood film contract in order to star in the Broadway theatre stage production. He won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. The production ran for 1,157 performances. Fonda would later reprise his role of Lieutenant Roberts in the 1955 film of the same name.
Tyrone Power starred in the London company. John Forsythe appeared in a national touring production. Many actors began their career in various productions and touring companies. Fess Parker began his show business career in the play, in 1951.
Joshua Logan's account of his collaboration with Thomas Heggen in the writing of the play is in Logan's autobiography, Josh: My Up and Down, In and Out Life.
Awards and nominations
- 1948 Tony Award for Best Play
- "History", USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17), Sea bird adventure.
- "The Wacky Ship of Mr. Roberts", Sea Classics, USS Virgo, January 1979.
- "TO Heggen, Author, Found Dead in Bath", The New York Times, May 20, 1949.
- Logan, Joshua (1976), Josh: My Up and Down, In and Out Life, New York: Delacorte Press, ISBN 978-0-440-04235-8.