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Classical 101

Mrs. Hart and Mr. Hart's First Act

Amazon.com, book cover
The cover of Moss Hart's newly-released memoire gives a hint of his love of theatre.

Many years ago I had the good fortune to interview Kitty Carlisle Hart, then Chairman of the New York State Council on the Arts.

Mrs. Hart was past her To Tell the Truth (go look it up). I had done some homework before meeting her, for which I was complimented. Kitty Carlisle Hart must have been the only person ever to star in a movie with the Marx Brothers, 'A Night at the Opera, (1935) and to appear in a Benjamin Britten opera on Broadway, The Rape of Lucretia (1947.)

What we didn't discuss was Mrs. Hart's long deceased husband, the playwright and director Moss Hart (1904-1961).  It's taken me this long, to my shame to read Moss Hart's memoir of his early days, Act One.

This is a classical music blog and a discussion of Moss Hart is completely appropriate, although he professed to dislike' classical music'. Mrs. Hart enjoyed a fine career in opera, and one imagines that Mr. Hart grit his teeth or stayed home with the kids.


Act One has no showbiz gossip. Nobody sleeps with anyone else  and the only thing going up someone's nose is a handkerchief. The book is about the love of the theater, and of finding a way toward a creative life, despite poverty and a lack of education. It is one of the best books I have read bout creativity, and the most fun.

Your high school junior class probably put on Moss Hart and George S. Kauffman's play You Can't take it With You.  (My sophomore class did, but we were advanced in Lexington, Massachusetts!) If you want to laugh yourself silly, go on YouTube and find Once in a Lifetime. 

Jus to be sure Moss Hart is at home on a classical blog, remember he collaborated with Irving Berlin in Easter Parade. His final credits before his early death were as show doctor and director of the original productions of My Fair Lady and Camelot. You could do worse than check out with Richard Burton and Julie Andrews.

Act One by Moss Hart may change your life. Read it and laugh.