The 11 strangest brags from celebrities’ first Playbills

If you’ve ever been to a Broadway show, you’ve gotten a Playbill, the yellow-topped program with information about the play and the stars. Thanks to the incredible Playbill archive, it’s possible to see what stars wrote when they were nobodies. And sometimes, they chose some unusual things to brag about for their first major role, from stars of the 1930s to today.

1. Katharine Hepburn in The Warrior’s Husband (1932)

The Strangest Brag: Hepburn had appeared in a few roles already, but she used her Playbill to share one of the most obvious things about her: she’s from New England.

Katharine Hepburn's First Playbill

2. Jimmy Stewart in All Good Americans (1933)

The Strangest Brag: Jimmy Stewart was young and eager, and his Playbill showed it: he wittily wrote that “he filed his academic shackles at Princeton last June.”

Jimmy Stewart's First Playbill

3. Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire (1948)

The Strangest Brag: Jessica Tandy picked up most of the headlines when the first production of Streetcar debuted, but Brando still had ample Playbill space. He used it to brag about how he ran an elevator and operated a switchboard.

Marlon Brando's First Playbill

4. Charlton Heston in Leaf And Bough (1949)

The Strangest Brag: It’s not necessarily a brag, but it’s slightly uncomfortable when Charlton Heston mentions in his Playbill how he preferred his World War II post in Greensboro, NC to a later assignment in the Aleutians.

Charlton Heston's First Playbill

5. Al Pacino in Does A Tiger Wear A Necktie? (1969)

The Strangest Brag: Pacino was still green, so he promoted his appearance on The Merv Griffin Show.

Al Pacino's First Playbill

6. Diane Keaton in Play It Again Sam (1969)

The Strangest Brag: Diane Keaton also plugged her talk show bona fides, but the weirdest thing about her Playbill is how non-chalant she is about her bio. She mentions “some work in films” and doesn’t bother to name them.

Diane Keaton's First Playbill

7. John Travolta in Over Here! (1974)

The Strangest Brag: John Travolta had appeared on Broadway earlier in Grease, though as Doody, not Danny Zuko. He used his Playbill to mention that he was “born into a theatrical family in Englewood, NJ.”

John Travolta's First Playbill

8. Meryl Streep in Trelawny Of The Wells (1975)

The Strangest Brag: Streep played it cool in her Playbill, and as a Yale grad she was already a seasoned actor. Fortunately, she found time to give Bernardsville, New Jersey a shout-out.

Meryl Streep's First Playbill

9. Sarah Jessica Parker in The Innocents (1976)

The Strangest Brag: Before she appeared in Annie, Sarah Jessica Parker bagged her first Broadway role in The Innocents. While it’s normal for a child star to include where they’re from, it’s odd to see the quintessential New Yorker mention Cincinnati five times.

Sarah Jessica Parker's First Playbill

10. Anna Kendrick in High Society (1998)

The Strangest Brag: Like Sarah Jessica Parker, Anna Kendrick was a kid when she first hit Broadway. Her Playbill is short and professional, with a few call-outs to her home state of Maine.

Anna Kendrick's First Playbill

11. Kristen Bell in The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer (2001)

The Strangest Brag: Bell was just an NYU student when she snagged a big part in the short-lived musical. She was most excited about her upcoming role in Pootie-Tang.

Kristen Bell's First Playbill

Start a Conversation

Whose Playbill is best?