The Royal Family (play)

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The Royal Family
File:The Royal Family.jpg
DVD cover for the 1975 revival archive recording
Written by George S. Kaufman
Edna Ferber
Date premiered 28 December 1927
Place premiered Selwyn Theatre
New York City
Original language English
Genre Comedy
Setting a New York City duplex apartment in 1927

The Royal Family is a play written by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. Its premiere on Broadway was at the Selwyn Theatre on 28 December 1927, where it ran for 345 performances to close in October 1928. It was included in Burns Mantle's The Best Plays of 1927–1928.

Plot summary

  • Fanny Cavendish – Cavendish Family Matriarch
  • Julie Cavendish – Fanny's daughter
  • Tony Cavendish – Fanny's son
  • Gwen Cavendish – Fanny's granddaughter
  • Herbert Dean – Fanny's brother
  • Kitty Dean – Fanny's sister-in-law
  • Oscar Wolfe – Cavendish Family's Long-time Agent
  • Gilbert Marshall – Julie's Love Interest
  • Perry Stewart – Gwen's Fiancee

The story is a parody of the Barrymore family of actors, with particular aim taken at John Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore. The character Tony Cavendish, a heavy-drinking womanizer, represents John Barrymore. Julie Cavendish is the prima donna Broadway star Ethel Barrymore. Ethel Barrymore was offended and her critical comments were quoted by the press; however John Barrymore saw the production in Los Angeles and was amused, and congratulated Fredric March on his performance as Tony Cavendish. (Otto Kruger had played the role on Broadway.)


  • Before moving to Broadway, the play had successful out-of-town try-outs in Newark and Atlantic City.
  • A revival of the comedy was one of the highlights of the 1975–76 season on Broadway. Directed by Ellis Rabb, it starred Rosemary Harris as Julie Cavendish, George Grizzard as Tony, and Eva Le Gallienne as the theatrical matriarch, Fanny. It won Rabb the 1976 Tony Award for best director. The production was later telecast on PBS, with Rabb replacing Grizzard as Tony, and this version is now on DVD.


The play was adapted in 1930 by Herman Mankiewicz for the film The Royal Family of Broadway released by Paramount Pictures. The film was directed by George Cukor and Cyril Gardner and stars Ina Claire and Fredric March. Several live television adaptions were produced, including one in 1952, a BBC film for television, starring Morton Lowry as Tony Cavendish and Charmion King as Julia, renamed as 'Theatre Royal'[1] and one in 1954, with Fredric March reprising his role as Tony, Helen Hayes as Fanny, and Claudette Colbert as Julie.

Awards and nominations




Further reading

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External links