On this day in 1927: The musical version of Edna Ferber’s novel “Show Boat” debuts at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York.
Ferber researched “Show Boat” not on the Mississippi River but on the N.C. coast — she had never even laid eyes on the Mississippi.
She heard about the James Adams Floating Theatre, a family-operated show boat that worked the mid-Atlantic coast, and in 1925 met the boat in Bath, on the Pamlico River, for its first stop of the season.
Ferber spent several days aboard the 700-seat boat. Her hosts, Charles and Beulah Hunter (“The Mary Pickford of the Chesapeake”) provided her a private bedroom, and the troupe regaled her with tales, which she took down on a yellow pad.
“Show Boat” scored enormous success not only as a musical (revived in 1994) but also in three movie versions.