As noted in the Playbill Vault, Jeanne Eagels began her legendary Broadway run as Sadie Thompson, “a prostitute at odds with a jungle missionary in Rain, primarily based on a W. Somerset Maugham quick story,” on this day, November 7, in 1922. We’re now just three years away from its centenary.
After 256 performances at Maxine Elliott’s Theatre in Manhattan, Rain transferred to another New York venue before a nationwide tour in 1925, and a final homecoming the next year. But when Gloria Swanson snatched up the film rights, Jeanne missed out on her chance to bring Sadie to the big screen.
Although Rain has been revived numerous times on stage and in movies, no other actress could rival the impact of Jeanne Eagels’ original performance, which theatregoers remembered with awe for decades to come.