Dwight Deere Wiman (1895-1951)

Dwight Deere Wiman was one of two sons born to Anna Deere, a granddaughter of John Deere.

Portrait Photo of Monty Wooley 1949, Yale Professor and Stage and Screen Actor

Monty Wooley

Wiman studied drama under Monty Woolley at Yale University and produced plays and musicals on Broadway for over 25 years.  He produced one key Cole Porter show, Gay Divorce (1932.27), with orchestrations by Hans Spialek and Robert Russell Bennett.  The cast included Fred Astaire, Eric Blore, Erik Rhodes and Claire Luce; it ran for 248 performances.

Wiman produced three Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz revues (over the years 1929 to 1931); and produced the Schwartz musical, with lyrics by Dorothy Fields, Stars in Your Eyes (1939.13).  With regard to Stars in Your Eyes, the orchestrations were by Don Walker and Hans Spialek; the show was staged by Josh Logan; the performers included Dan Dailey, Jr., Mildred Natwick, Ethel Merman, Jimmy Durante, Richard Carlson and Tamara, and the show ran for 127 performances.

Wiman concentrated on producing the better-known Rodgers and Hart shows from 1936 to 1942, just before Rodgers started to work with Oscar Hammerstein II.  The shows included two of Rodgers’ classics, On Your Toes (1936.05) and Babes in Arms (1937.05).  On Your Toes had a book by Rodgers, Hart and George Abbott, orchestrations by Hans Spialek, sets by Jo Mielziner, choreography by George Balanchine and a cast that included Monty Woolley, Ray Bolger and Tamara.  It also had one of the best ballets ever written, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, which was later performed outside the Broadway show by Balanchine’s New York City Ballet company.  The show ran for 315 performances.

NYPL Digital Collection of Martha Swope Photo of Arthur Mitchell in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue from Richard Rodgers' show On Your Toes

Slaughter on Tenth Ave

Babes in Arms starred an army of talented youngsters, including Ray Heatherton, Alfred Drake, Mitzi Green, Wynn Murray and the Nicholas Brothers.  The score is one of Rodgers’ best and was orchestrated by Spialek.  It ran for 289 performances.

Interestingly, the next Rodgers’ collaboration with Wiman, I Married An Angel (1938.05), ran for more performances (338), even though it had an inferior score.  The following show, Higher and Higher (1940.06), had a book by Gladys Hurlbut and Logan and was staged by Logan.  It ran for 108 performances.

Photo of Ray Bolger from Rodgers and Hart show By Jupiter

Ray Bolger

Rodgers and Wiman’s final show together was By Jupiter (1942.15) and ran for 427 performances.

As a sidenote, we would like to mention that Wiman produced Great Lady by Frederick Loewe (1938.15) with lyricist Earl Crooker.  Hans Spialek provided the orchestrations, and Norma Terris, Helen Ford and Irene Bordoni provided the female star power.  It didn’t last long—only twenty performances.  However, Wiman’s support of Loewe in 1938 facilitated Loewe’s meeting with Alan J. Lerner in 1942; and a great partnership was born, although their first hit would not come until 1947 (Brigadoon, 1947.07).