Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, authors of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella on Broadway, hold one of the most successful legacies in American musical theater history. Together, they created 11 musicals and received 35 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes, two Grammy Awards and two Emmy Awards. Many describe Rodgers and Hammerstein’s body of work in the 1940s and 1950s as the “golden age” of musical theater.
Richard Rodgers first saw success with his partner Lorenz Hart with over 40 shows and film scores, while Oscar Hammerstein II had worked successfully on several operettas. In 1943, Rodgers and Hammerstein created Oklahoma! and the rest, as they say, is history. Thereafter, they collaborated on Carousel (1945), Allegro (1947), South Pacific (1949), The King and I (1951), Me and Juliet (1953), Pipe Dream (1955), Flower Drum Song (1958) and The Sound of Music (1959). Together they wrote State Fair (1943) as a movie, which also arrived on Broadway in 1996, and, of course, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1957) as a made-for-television movie.
Rodgers and Hammerstein were top-notch at integrating dialogue and music to tell vivid stories. These stories were capable of not only entertaining with great humor and whimsy, but also challenging notions of racism, classicism and sexism. This impressive combination of form and content would inspire generations of musical theater writers to come.
Today, their imprint on American theater and culture is undeniable. Time magazine and CBS News named Rodgers and Hammerstein one of the top 20 most influential artists of the 20th century. They also received The Hundred Year Association of New York’s Gold Medal Award “in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York” in 1950. The 46th Street Theatre was named The Richard Rodgers Theatre in March of 1990. That same year, they were commemorated with a United States Postal Service stamp. With many awards in hand and a body of work that continues to be produced for its relevance and artistic mastery, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s work lives on as one of the most beloved canons in American musical theater.