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Entry from October 10, 2020
Legacy Robe (Gypsy Robe)

The “gypsy robe” is a Broadway musical tradition that has nothing to do with the famous musical Gypsy (1959). The robe (a negligee) originally began with the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), when Florence Baum gave it to fellow chorus member Bill Bradley. A Sunday News description on August 26, 1956, says it was called the “Gypsy Traveling Robe.” The garment was passed around from musical to musical for good luck.

In 2018, Actors’ Equity voted to change the name to “Legacy Robe,” which it then trademarked.


Wikipedia: Legacy Robe
The Legacy Robe is a tradition in which an ensemble member with the most Broadway credits receives a robe on the opening night of a Broadway musical. The title of the robe was changed from the Gypsy Robe in July 2018.
(...)
Rules of the Ritual
According to Actors’ Equity Association, the following are the rules of the Legacy Robe:

1. The Legacy Robe goes only to Broadway musicals with a chorus.
2. The Robe goes to a chorus member only, whoever has the largest number of Broadway Chorus credits.
3. The Ceremony traditionally occurs half an hour before opening night.
4. The new recipient must put on Robe and circle the stage counterclockwise three times, while cast members reach out and touch Robe for good luck. The new recipient then visits each dressing room while wearing the Robe.
5. The new recipient supervises addition of appliques from their show to the Robe. Important rules for adding mementos: for wearability, durability and longevity, add-ons must be lightweight, sturdy and reasonably sized so each Robe can represent a full season.
6. The opening night date and recipient’s name is written on or near the memento, and cast members only sign that section of Robe.
7. The recipient will attend the next Broadway musical opening and will present the Robe to that show’s recipient.
(...)
History
The ritual dates to 1950, when Florence Baum, a chorus member in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, entered the men’s dressing room wearing a robe, pale pink with white feathers. The men took turns trying it on. Fellow chorus member Bill Bradley sent a dressing gown from one of his fellow performers to his friend performing in Call Me Madam. A feathered rose from Ethel Merman’s costume was attached to the robe, and it was then given to a chorus member in Guys and Dolls. The robe continued to be passed from one show to another, each time with a memento added on.

City Lore
Broadway’s Gypsy Robe
By Nancy Groce
In 1959 (Wrong year--ed.), Bill Bradley, a dancer in the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, borrowed a tacky dressing robe from a chorus girl or “gypsy” - as the singers and/or dancers in Broadway choruses call themselves. On opening night he paraded through backstage bestowing blessings on the production. The musical was a major hit. A few nights later, Bradley sent the robe to his friend, another chorus gypsy. He also attached a ready-made legend - the outrageous claim that it had been worn for luck on opening night throughout the 1920s by the beautiful stars of the Ziegfeld Follies. His friend’s musical, Call Me Madam with Ethel Merman, was a phenomenal success.

Actors’ Equity—Gypsy Robe
But when the audience members have taken their coveted seats, a crescendo is heard from the orchestra, and the curtain rises the gypsy robe remains backstage while the performer it honors takes his or her place in the ranks of the chorus. The evening’s honored gypsy takes no special curtain call, and the chances are the audience will file out of the theatre after the performance never knowing who the newly-robed King or Queen is. That, after all, is part of what it means to be a gypsy. 

The gypsy, as any generation of gypsies will tell you, is first and foremost a performer, the performers’ performer. They, like their namesakes, are considered a mystical, nomadic tribe of people who know what it takes to survive. Although there are no written requirements to “gypsyhood,” no laws written in stone as to who is or is not a gypsy, there are some unspoken understandings of what it takes to qualify.
(Excerpted from “SHOW BUSINESS” JULY 25, 1990 by Leanne Boepple)

Actors’ Equity
THE LEGACY ROBE
The ritual of the Legacy Robe takes place on opening night on the stage of every Broadway musical that has a chorus. It began in 1950 when Bill Bradley, in the chorus of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, persuaded Florence Baum, a chorus member, to let him have her dressing gown. As a lark, he sent it to a friend, Arthur Partington, in the chorus of Call Me Madam, on opening night, telling him it had been worn by all the Ziegfeld beauties. Arthur added a rose from Ethel Merman’s gown and sent it to a chorus member on the next opening night of Guys and Dolls. It was then passed from show to show in a haphazard way and was often presented to a friend of the previous recipient, or awarded to a chorus member based on popularity. Through the years the passing of the Robe became a specific ceremony with official rules stating how it is presented, worn and paraded on stage.

8 April 1956, New York (NY) Times, “News and Gossip Gathered on the Rialto” by Arthur Gelb, sec. 2, pg. X1, cols. 3-4:
A Tale About a Broadway Superstition
By ARTHUR GELB
THEATRE people, as everyone knows, are an extraordinarily superstitious lot. They shudderingly embrace almost any hoary superstition in the air and it appears that on occasion they will even go so far as to invent one. Take, for example, the curse that is operating among Broadway dancers. It is a fairly modern one, dating only as far as 1949. But although it hasn’t yet achieved the mellowness of tradition, it is considered by the dancers to whom it is confined to be quite a nice little curse, and no one har dreamed of flouting it.

It stems from the musical “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” Florence Baum, a dancer in the show, happened to own a flowing white satin cloak ornamented with a marabou collar. She first felt the malignant powers inherent in the cloak when she became the object of chaffing each time she wrapped herself in the respendent garment. To escape further jocular comments, she presented it to Bill Bradley, another dance in the show. Mr. Bradley, better versed than Miss Baum in matters supernatural, dubbed the cloak a “Gypsy Robe” and sent it on to Stanley Simmons, a dancer in “Out of This World,” explaining that the curse of the gypsies would be incurred by Mr. Simmons if he failed to pass the robe on to another dancer in another show.

And so the Gypsy Robe has been sent along to someone in the company of each new musical that opens on Broadway. The sender tries to surprise the recipient by having it delivered backstage on opening night in a disguised package. (...)

The Gypsy Robe now weighs twenty-five pounds. Someone started the trend of embellishing the cloak with mementos of the musicals it was passing through.

Newspapers.com
26 August 1956, Sunday News (New York, NY), “On the Town” by Charles McHarry, sec. 2, pg. 6, co. 1:
Chorus boys, among other things, are called gypsies. Back in 1949, when Florence Baum was dancing in “Bless You All,” she gave a beat-up negligee to gypsy Bill Bradley, a boy dancer who was about to open in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” Bradley kept it awhile, then passed it along to another gypsy who was in a rehearsing musical. As both “Gentlemen” and the musical which followed it were hits, word got around that the garment was good luck.

The negligee, called the Gypsy Traveling Robe, is still on Broadway and is currently in possession of T. C. Jones, the female impersonator in “New Faces of 1956.” Jones will pass it on to a dancer in the next musical scheduled to open, which will be “Li’l Abner,” coming to the St. James Theatre Oct. 13.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
Newspapers.com (The same article in another newspaper.—ed.)
16 October 1956, The Leader-Herald (Gloversville and Johnstown, NY), pg. 7, cols. 1-2:
Broadway’s Gypsy Robe Is Restless Again; Time for It To Go Wandering
By DICK KLEINER
NEW YORK—(NEA)—The gypsy robe is growing restless in T. C> Jones’ dressing room. It’s time for it to start wandering again.

The gypsy robe is what show business calls a fantastic article of apparel that represents one of the youngest traditions in this old profession. It’s a supposedly lucky dressing gown, which for seven years has been handled from one Broadway musical show to the next, from one gypsy—show business slang for a chorus boy or girl—to another.
(...)
The gypsy who first started the robe business was a dancer in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” named Bill Bradley. He’d heard the legend, from long ago in the musty history of the theater, about a lucky robe that was passed from one show to another. So he figured it would be only nice to start it over again. Only this time he limited it to gypsies.

He borrowed a robe from a dancer named Florence Baum. And, when the next show opened, he secretly left it for a dancer in that production. This was Arthur Parkington in “Call Me Madam.” Next stop was “Guys and Dolls.” Since these first three shows were hits, the robe got to be a lucky charm.

American Theatre
NEWS JULY 13, 2018
Actors’ Equity’s New Name for the Gypsy Robe: The ‘Legacy Robe’
The ceremony honoring Broadway chorus members has a new, more culturally sensitive name.

BY AMERICAN THEATRE EDITORS
NEW YORK CITY: Actors’ Equity Association has announced that a new name has been chosen for the tradition formerly known as the “Gypsy Robe.” Moving forward, the Robe and tradition, in which the longest-performing chorus member of each Broadway show is honored on opening night with a colorful patchwork garment, will be referred to as the “Legacy Robe,” a name chosen by members in a survey.

“The Legacy Robe reminds us why our tradition exists,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity, in a statement. “It emphasizes the history of chorus performers, their years of dedication and hard work and just how essential they are to every Broadway musical. The ceremony on opening night will go on like it has for years, and I look forward to celebrating another season’s long serving chorus performers with recognition of their professionalism as they receive the Legacy Robe.”

Broadway World
Actors’ Equity Renames Chorus Celebration ‘Legacy Robe’
by BWW News Desk Jul. 13, 2018
Actors’ Equity Association has announced that a new name has been chosen for the tradition formerly known as the “Gypsy Robe.” Moving forward, the Robe and tradition will be referred to as the “Legacy Robe” - a name chosen by members in a survey.

Playbill
New Name Revealed for Broadway ‘Gypsy Robe’ Ceremony
BY ADAM HETRICK
JUL 13, 2018
Actors’ Equity Association has revealed the new name for the “Gypsy Robe” ceremony, one of the theatre’s great opening night traditions honoring the work of chorus members in Broadway musicals.

As of the July 26 opening night of the new Broadway musical Head Over Heels, the pre-show ritual will be known as the “Legacy Robe” ceremony, a name selected by AEA members in an online survey.

Twitter
Actors’ Equity
@ActorsEquity
On Friday, we introduced the Legacy Robe. Before we announced the new name of this beloved tradition, we spoke to 3 recipients of the rob this past season. Here is what they had to say. #LegacyRobe
Chorus Members Supporting Change
Some of the most recent recipients of one of Broadway’s oldest traditions have an important message in regards to the future of this time-honored tradition. ...
youtube.com
12:58 PM · Jul 15, 2018·Sprout Social

Twitter
Al Bundonis
@AlBundonis
#LegacyRobe Proud to be a part of this historic change. It wasn’t called the Gyspy Robe when Bill Bradley first bestowed it on a colleague. That name came later-- and was added with Love. it is with the same Love that
@ActorsEquity
changes it to the Legacy Robe!  #Chorus #AEA
Quote Tweet
Actors’ Equity
@ActorsEquity
· Jul 14, 2018
ICYMI - “Legacy Robe” Voted as New Name for Broadway Chorus Tradition. “I am deeply grateful for this change.” said an Equity member of Roma heritage during the vote. #LegacyRobe
https://americantheatre.org/2018/07/13/actors-equitys-new-name-for-the-gypsy-robe-the-legacy-robe/
11:46 PM · Jul 15, 2018·Twitter Web Client

Twitter
Huey Nym
@hueynym
@BettyBuckley What do you think of the AEA decision to rename the “Legacy Robe?”
I think they should have changed it to The DIMM Robe (Danced In Most Musicals) to make a wandering tribe of peoples no 3 of whom could agree on anything worldwide wouldn’t be disparaged by theatre.
12:27 PM · Jul 16, 2018·Tweetbot for Mac

Twitter
Actors’ Equity
@ActorsEquity
There have been hundreds of recipients over the past 30+ years! Meet the Legacy Robe recipients of years past!
https://actorsequity.org/aboutequity/awards/Robe/RobeRecipients/
3:55 PM · Dec 31, 2019·Sprout Social

(Trademark)
Word Mark LEGACY ROBE
Goods and Services IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: Providing recognition and incentives by the way of awards to demonstrate excellence in the field of entertainment. FIRST USE: 20180713. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20180713
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 88017025
Filing Date June 27, 2018
Current Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1B
Published for Opposition November 27, 2018
Registration Number 5858532
Registration Date September 10, 2019
Owner (REGISTRANT) Actors’ Equity Association UNINCORPORATED ASSOCIATION NEW YORK 165 West 46th Street 15th Floor New York NEW YORK 10036
Attorney of Record Wendy M. LaManque
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film/Circus • Saturday, October 10, 2020 • Permalink