The 1934 Stockbridge, Massachusetts, cast:(left to right) Georgette McKee (aka Andrea King), Edwin Phillips, Mary Wickes, Montgomery Clift and Betty Field. Insert: Georgette McKee (aka Andrea King) and Montgomery Clift.
"Fly Away Home" opened in New York at the Forty-Eighth Street Theatre, on January 15, 1935, and was an instant hit with audiences and critics. The comedy ran a full season -- 204 performances. Andrea King (Georgette McKee) was making her second Broadway appearance at the age of 15, and newcomer Montgomery Clift, at 14, was making his professional acting debut. The director, who also starred as their father in the play, was none other than Thomas Mitchell -- a fine character actor -- and four years later he would gain immortality playing Scarlett O'Hara's father in "Gone With the Wind," while winning an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor the same year for "Stagecoach."
Andrea remembers what a thrilling experience it was to be surrounded by such a talented cast. Aside from Mr. Mitchell and young Monty Clift, the cast also included Albert Van Dekker, who would later drop the "Van" from his name for his many film appearances, Sheldon Leonard, who after playing character roles such as Nick the bartender in "It's a Wonderful Life," became the hugely successful television producer of "I Dream of Jeannie", "I Spy," and many other shows, and Philip Faversham, son of the renowned Broadway actor William Faversham.
Two other wonderful actresses would not go on to Broadway after the show's Stockbridge, Massachusetts tryout: Betty Field, who initially played Andrea's older sister, would soon make quite an impression in the film "Of Mice and Men," as well as giving several poignant performances in movies of the 1950s, like "Picnic," "Peyton Place," and "Bus Stop," and Mary Wickes, a delightfully dry comedic character actress who made movie audiences roar with laughter for over 50 years in everything from "The Man Who Came to Dinner," "White Christmas," and "The Music Man," to "Postcards from the Edge" and "Sister Act." They were replaced by Joan Tompkins and Clare Woodbury, respectively.
The Broadway cast pictured above, left to right: Edwin Philips, Lili Zehner, Montgomery Clift, Albert [Van] Dekker, Joan Tompkins and Thomas Mitchell, with Georgette McKee [Andrea King]"swimming" on the bench in front of them.