1st Tony Awards
DateApril 6, 1947
LocationWaldorf-Astoria Hotel,
New York City, New York
Hosted byBrock Pemberton
Television/radio coverage
NetworkWOR (radio),
Mutual Network (radio)
Tony Awards · 2nd →

The First Tony Awards, more formally known as the Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre, were held on April 6, 1947, in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.[1] Perry was a co-founder of the revived and revised version the American Theatre Wing (ATW) in 1940, and the award were established by the ATW in her memory after her death in 1946.[2] Fellow ATW co-founder Louise Heims Beck was responsible for overseeing the organization of the 1st Tony Awards.[2]

Background and ceremony

Presented by the ATW, the Awards celebrated "outstanding contributions to the current American theatre season."[3] According to The New York Times, these awards "do not designate their recipients as 'best' or 'first' but the classifications in which they are given will be elastic from year to year."[3] The ceremony, hosted by Brock Pemberton, was broadcast on radio station WOR and the Mutual Network.

The awards got their nickname, "Tonys", during the ceremony itself when Pemberton handed out an award and called it a "Toni", referring to the nickname of Antoinette Perry, co-founder of the American Theatre Wing.[1][4] [5][6]

Musicals represented at the ceremony were Street Scene, Brigadoon and Finian's Rainbow. Oklahoma! and Carousel could not be nominated because, while although still playing their original runs at the time of the awards, they had opened too soon to qualify for the awards (Oklahoma! had opened in 1943, and Carousel in 1945).

The award itself was a scroll, an initialed sterling silver compact case for the women, and an engraved gold bill clip or cigarette lighter for the men.[1]


Note: nominees are not shown


Award Winner (s)
Actors-Play José Ferrer in Cyrano de Bergerac
Fredric March in Years Ago
Actresses-Play Ingrid Bergman in Joan of Lorraine
Helen Hayes in Happy Birthday
Tony Award for Outstanding Newcomer Patricia Neal in Another Part of the Forest
Tony Award for Best Performance in a Musical David Wayne in Finian's Rainbow


Award Winner
Director Elia Kazan for All My Sons
Costume Designer Lucinda Ballard for Happy Birthday, Another Part of the Forest, Street Scene, John Loves Mary, The Chocolate Soldier
Choreographers Agnes de Mille for Brigadoon
Michael Kidd for Finian's Rainbow
Composer Kurt Weill, Street Scene

Special awards

Source: The New York Times[3]

Multiple nominations and awards

The following productions received multiple awards.


  1. ^ a b c "History. An Award for Excellence" tonyawards.com, accessed May 28, 2016
  2. ^ a b "OBITUARIES: Louise Heims Beck". Variety. Vol. 290, no. 7. March 22, 1978. p. 46.
  3. ^ a b c "20 Stage Notables Get Perry Awards". The New York Times. April 7, 1947. p. 40. Retrieved 30 January 2019 – via Rare Newspapers.
  4. ^ Nassour, Ellis. "History. The Original 'Tony'". Tonyawards.com. IBM Corp. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  5. ^ Rothman, Lily (June 7, 2015). "This Is the Woman the Tony Awards Are Named After". Time Magazine. TIME USA, LLC. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  6. ^ Nassour, Ellis (June 4, 1998). "Remembering Tony Namesake Antoinette Perry". Playbill. Brightspot. Retrieved 30 January 2019.