Robert S. Dahdah (1926 - 2016)

A photo of Robert S. Dahdah
Robert Sarkis Dahdah
1926 - 2016
March 8, 1926
Puerto Rico
February 6, 2016
Other Names
Robert Sarkis Dahdah
Robert S. Dahdah was born on March 8, 1926 in Puerto Rico. He had sibling Margaret. He died on February 6, 2016 at age 89.
Updated: December 18, 2020
Curley McDimple is a musical with music and lyrics by Robert Dahdah and book by Robert Dahdah and Mary Boylan. The play is a spoof of Depression-era Shirley Temple movies and was presented in a black and white design. This was one of two musicals in which Bernadette Peters appeared that spoofed some aspect of Hollywood—the other was Dames at Sea. "The Meanest Man in Town" is its best-known song. Curley McDimple opened at the Off Broadway Bert Wheeler Theatre, New York City on November 22, 1967, and ran for 931 performances, closing on January 25, 1970. Robert Dahdah directed, musical numbers were staged by Lonnie Evans, and Bernadette Peters was featured as "Alice", a performer. Peters left the production in early 1968 for her next show, George M!. Butterfly McQueen, who was known for her performance in the film Gone with the Wind, joined the cast on May 9, 1968. In a new role written for her, she played a cook at the boarding house. The Colorforms company also made a dress-up doll set based on the title character after Shirley Temple Black refused to grant the company a license. Plot synopsis In the 1930s, Curley (the Shirley Temple-like character) arrives at Sarah's Theatrical Boarding House, a shabby but homey theatrical boarding house in Manhattan, New York City, run by a nice Irish lady, Sarah. Curley is an optimistic eight years old and is looking for parents to adopt her; she settles on Alice and Jimmy. They are performers who are both boarders at the house—they fall in love with each other at first sight. The boarders aid Sarah, who is threatened with losing her house through foreclosure by the banker, Mr. Gillingwater, by putting on a benefit vaudeville show. A mean Social worker, during the rehearsals for the benefit, steals Curley away, taking her to an orphanage in New Jersey. Curley is able to escape and she performs in the show, which is a hit and is picked up by Broadway. Curley finds out that Gillingwater is her grandfather and that he is a former sweetheart of Sarah's, and Jimmy and Alice get married. Characters and original cast Jimmy, a boarder and young song and dance man trying to become a star – Paul Cahill (replaced by Don Emmons) Bill, a "Bill Robinson" type tap dancer – George Hillman Sarah, Irish owner of the boarding house – Helen Blount Miss Hamilton, Social worker, looking like the Wicked Witch – Norma Bigtree Alice, another boarder and performer – Bernadette Peters Mr. Gillingwater, a wealthy banker – Gene Galvin Curley, eight–year old child star – Bayn Johnson Musical numbers Act I Overture A Cup of Coffee – Jimmy I Try – Jimmy and Alice Curley McDimple – Curley, Jimmy, Alice, Sarah, Bill Love is the Loveliest Song – Alice Are There Any More Rosie O'Gradys? – Sarah, Jimmy, Alice, Curley, Bill Dancing in the Rain – Curley, Bill, Company At the Playland Jamboree – Curley, Company I've Got a Little Secret – Jimmy, Curley Act II Stars and Lovers – Alice, Jimmy, Company The Meanest Man in Town – Alice, Jimmy, Company I Try (reprise) – Jimmy, Alice Something Nice Is Going to Happen – Curley Swing-a-Ding-a-Ling – Curley Hi de hi de hi, Hi de hi de ho – Sarah, Alice, Jimmy, Bill, Mr. Gillingwater, Miss Hamilton Swing-a-Ding-a-Ling (Reprise) – Curley, Company Something Nice Is Going To Happen (Reprise) – Miss Hamilton Love is the Loveliest Love Song (reprise) – Jimmy, Company Finale – Jimmy References Sullivan, Dan. "Theater:Good Ship Lollipop Revisited", New York Times, November 23, 1967, p. 59 "Miss McQueen Gets Part", New York Times, p. 52, May 9, 1968 Information from Information from Little Musicals for Little Theatres (2006), Denny Martin Flinn, p. 32, Hal Leonard Corp., ISBN 0-87910-321-3 Article in Life magazine, June 13, 1969 issue. External links Curley McDimple at the Internet Off-Broadway Database Photo of Peters and Johnson in Curley McDimple, 1967
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Robert S. Dahdah
Most commonly known as
Robert Sarkis Dahdah
Full name
Robert Sarkis Dahdah
Other names or aliases
Unknown. Did Robert move a lot? Where was his last known location?
Last known residence
Robert Dahdah was born on in Puerto Rico
Robert Dahdah died on
Heart Failure
Cause of death
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Ethnicity & Lineage


Nationality & Locations



Puerto Rico, then Manhattan, NY. His family was actually Lebanese.




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ROBERT DAHDAH Director - Librettist – Composer 433 West 46th Street • New York, NY 10036 (212) 586-7954 [Office] • (212) 568-0453 [Home] THEATRE EXPERIENCE 1999 “Happy Journey” by Thornton Wilder Director Ivan Shapiro House, NYC 1999 “White Dwarfs” by Jerry Kaufman Director Theatre Studio, NYC 1999 “OTB” by Gene Ruffini Director Newspaper Guild, NYC 1999 “Role Play” by Sid Theil Director Theatre Studio, NYC 1998 “Dames at Sea” by Wise & Haimsohn Director Columbia Center Arts, Longview, WA 1998 “Bridge Jumpers” by Bob Quinn Director St. Clement’s Theatre, NYC 1998 “Frame Up” by Bob Siegel Director John Harm’s Theatre, Englewood, NJ 1997 “Irish Ghost Stories” Irish Theatre Director St. Clement’s Theatre, NYC 1997 “Sic Gloria Tantra” by Gene Ruffini Director Trilogy Theatre, NYC 1997 “Common Princess” Director Regina Laudis Abbey, Bethlehem, CT 1996 “Watch Your Step” by Irving Berlin Adaptor/Director Theatre for the New City, NYC 1995 Shows for the Regina Laudis Abbey Director Bethlehem, CT 1994 “Irving Berlin’s Ragtime Revue” Author/Director Theatre for the New City, NYC 1994 “You Can’t Have Everything” Bob Quinn Director Bethlehem, CT 1993 “Curley McDimple” Co-author-Lyricist-Composer Jan McCart Dinner Theatre, Miami, FL 1993 “La Roca” by Sean Brown Director Theatre for the New City, NYC 1993 “Gloria Gloriosa” by Gual-Rexach Director St. Clement’s Theatre, NYC In addition to film and stage work as an actor, he has been for fifty years one of the most respected directors in New York's Off-Off Broadway theatre world. He has directed plays by Lanford Wilson, Robert Patrick (III), and Bob Heide, as well as the original Caffe Cino production of "Dames at Sea," and many other award-winning works. On May 25, 2007, he was presented with an award as "The Father of Off-Off Broadway.". He after in four films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Midnight Cowboy (1969), The French Connection (1971), The Godfather (1972) and Raging Bull (1980). With the exception of the last film, all the other three films are winners in the category.

Personal Life

Robert Dahdah was one of the most gifted men I have ever met. He was also extremely funny and a good friend. His criticism was also brilliant, and if he didn't like something, he turned it into a joke. "Does it have to be "as sweet as apple pie?" After hearing this 20 times I sang, "You're as cute as Christmas, As sweet as candy cane. Just thinking 'bout you, Baby, I gets me giddy like champagne." "Wow! That's great!"

Military Service

Proud to serve in World War II. Worked as an entertainer with Mel Brooks in the state of Washington.

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Happy Birthday, Robert. Hope you are singing with the angels. (Another song of mine!)
Mar 09, 2020  ·  Reply
He was very generous with his advice and positive criticism. He critiqued my songs. He was also the funniest man I ever met. He never spent five cents but he gave a thousand people free tickets to Broadway shows all the time.
May 14, 2020  ·  Reply

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Robert Dahdah, 89, early Off Broadway writer/director February 25, 2016 | Filed under: News,People,Obituaries | Posted by: The Villager Robert Dahdah. BY MAGIE DOMINIC | Robert (Bob) Dahdah, a prolific writer and director who was a major contributor to the creation of Off Off Broadway theater in the 1960s, and continued writing and directing for more than 50 years, died Feb. 6 at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, where he was under hospice care. He was 89. Dahdah was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on March 8, 1926, to Lebanese parents. The family moved to New York City when he was a child and lived in Washington Heights. By the very early 1960s, Dahdah was writing and directing plays in venues in New York City, particularly, Off Off Broadway. In 1966 he directed what would become an iconic Off Off Broadway musical, and one that would be forever famous for starring a very young Bernadette Peters in her first New York musical, “Dames at Sea.” “Dames at Sea” was first presented at the Caffe Cino on Cornelia St. A tiny cafe theater operated by Joe Cino, The Caffe Cino is considered the birthplace of Off Off Broadway and lasted from 1958 to 1968. Dahdah wrote and directed and starred in several productions there. “Dames at Sea” was about 40 minutes long and was a takeoff on everything pure and innocent. It ran for three months to over-packed houses. The room was officially full when two people were seated on top of the cigarette machine. It was the longest running show in Caffe Cino’s history and probably the longest running show in the history of Off Off Broadway at that time. Peters told, regarding Dahdah’s passing and his production of “Dames at Sea,” “He was a terrific director and basically got the show on at the Cino and imbued it with love that transported over the little postage-sized stage right into the audience’s hearts.” Earlier, in a July 15, 2006, interview for Legends of Broadway, Peters said, “My first summer away from home, I did summer stock in Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania, and I met a choreographer there who worked at the Caffe Cino. When I got back to the city, he called me and said, ‘We’re doing this show at the Caffe Cino, and I think there’s a role you’d be right for. Will you come in?’ I remember thinking that I had to find the Caffe Cino. Because it was on Cornelia St., which is one block long, and I had to find that. When I got there, Helen Hanft was on the stage doing [Tom Eyen’s play] ‘Why Hanna’s Skirt Won’t Stay Down’ for her relatives who were in town that afternoon. That’s where I met the director, Bob Dahdah, and everybody else. I don’t remember if I sang — I must have. Anyway, I took on the role, and I had the best time in my whole life. The audience was so great I couldn’t wait to change and get back onstage to say my lines.” The following year, Dahdah collaborated with the writer and actress Mary Boylan, with whom he frequently collaborated, and together they wrote the book and score for the musical “Curley McDimple,” a spoof of Shirley Temple movies. Dahdah also directed the production. “Curley McDimple” was produced Off Broadway in 1967, and Peters starred in the production. It ran for more than 900 performances. Dahdah directed plays by several New York playwrights, including early works by Lanford Wilson, Robert Patrick and Robert Heide. “I was very close to Robert Dahdah,” Heide said. “He directed my play ‘The Bed,’ which was a big thing at Caffe Cino. That was a year before he discovered Bernadette Peters. “He lived in Hell’s Kitchen, but he was always down here,” Heide said of Dahdah. “He worked at La MaMa. He was ‘Mr. Off Broadway.’ ” Magie Dominic, a writer who was part of the 1960s Off Broadway theater scene, said, “I have many personal memories of my friend Bob Dahdah. But my most cherished memory is that he was forever a courteous and supportive friend, and an honorable and true gentleman in a business where those traits are not always a given.” Similar to Heide, she said, “Bob’s apartment was on 46th St., but he spent his every waking hour on Cornelia St., or at La Mama or Theater for the New City.” In addition to writing and directing, Dahdah was also an actor and appeared in small roles in a number of major films, including “The Godfather” and “Three Days of the Condor.” Dahdah was a World War II veteran. He is survived by a nephew, Robert Dahdah, a niece, Rea McKay, and an extended family of friends. He was preceded in death by a sister, Margaret, and two brothers, Raymond and William.

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Robert's lifetime.

In 1926, in the year that Robert S. Dahdah was born, on October 31st, Harry Houdini died in Michigan. Houdini was the most famed magician of his time and perhaps of all time, especially for his acts involving escapes - from handcuffs, straitjackets, chains, ropes slung from skyscrapers, and more. He was president of the Society of American Magicians and stringently upheld professional ethics. He died of complications from a ruptured appendix. Although he had received a blow to the area a couple of days previously, the connection between the blow and his appendicitis is disputed.

In 1939, he was just 13 years old when on the 1st of September, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. On September 17th, the Soviet Union invaded Poland as well. Poland expected help from France and the United Kingdom, since they had a pact with both. But no help came. By October 6th, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany held full control of the previously Polish lands. Eventually, the invasion of Poland lead to World War II.

In 1941, when he was only 15 years old, on June 25th, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802, prohibiting racial discrimination in the defense industry. EO 8802 was the first federal action to prohibit employment discrimination - without prejudice as to "race, creed, color, or national origin" - in the U.S. Civil Rights groups had planned a march on Washington D.C. to protest for equal rights but with the signing of the Order, they canceled the March.

In 1970, at the age of 44 years old, Robert was alive when on May 1st, US troops invaded Cambodia, expanding the Vietnam War. The invasion of Cambodia was a Nixon policy, although it was argued against by both his Secretary of State and his Secretary of Defense.

In 1989, Robert was 63 years old when on January 20th, George Herbert Walker Bush became the 41st President of the United States. Previously Ronald Regan's Vice President, he ran against Michael Dukakis and won the popular vote by 53.4% to 45.6%.

Created on Jun 04, 2020 by Daniel Pinna
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