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The Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical is the Tony Awards award given to the actress who was voted as the best actress in a musical, whether a new production or a revival. The award has been announced since 1948, but the nominees who did not win have only been announced since 1956.

Contents

Awards and nominations

1940s

1950s

and Gwen VerdonNew Girl in Town

1960s

and Diahann CarrollNo Strings
and Leslie UggamsHallelujah, Baby!

1970s

1980s

  • 1985: no award

1990s

2000s

Multiple winners

4 Wins

3 Wins

2 Wins

Multiple nominees

7 Nominations

  • Chita Rivera

6 Nominations

  • Bernadette Peters

5 Nominations

  • Gwen Verdon

4 Nominations

  • Angela Lansbury
  • Carol Channing
  • Sutton Foster
  • Mary Martin
  • Donna Murphy
  • Patti LuPone

3 Nominations

  • Julie Andrews (however, Ms. Andrews did not accept her third nomination)
  • Dee Hoty
  • Dorothy Loudon
  • Ethel Merman
  • Liza Minnelli
  • Faith Prince

2 Nominations

  • Lauren Bacall
  • Sandy Duncan
  • Christine Ebersole
  • Nanette Fabray
  • Dolores Gray
  • Barbara Harris
  • Judy Kuhn
  • Beatrice Lillie
  • Rebecca Luker
  • Marin Mazzie
  • Audra McDonald
  • Kelli O'Hara
  • Tonya Pinkins
  • Alice Ripley
  • Alexis Smith
  • Elaine Stritch
  • Inga Swenson
  • Nancy Walker

Trivia

  • There have been three ties in the history of this category:
    • 1958: Between Gwen Verdon (New Girl in Town) and Thelma Ritter (New Girl In Town);
    • 1962: Between Anna Maria Alberghetti (Carnival!) and Diahann Carroll (No Strings);
    • 1968: Between Patricia Routledge (Darling of the Day) and Leslie Uggams (Hallelujah, Baby!).
  • The female lead role of Mama Rose in Gypsy has received the most nominations in Tony Awards history in this category, with five. There have been three winners:
    • 1960 - Ethel Merman;
    • 1975 - Angela Lansbury (winner);
    • 1990 - Tyne Daly (winner);
    • 2003 - Bernadette Peters;
    • 2008 - Patti LuPone(winner).
  • The only other female role with multiple wins is that of Anna Leonowens in The King and I, with 2 wins out of 2 nominations:
    • 1952 - Gertrude Lawrence;
    • 1996 - Donna Murphy.
  • The closest in nominations is the female lead role of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, with 3. There has been one win:
    • 1979 - Angela Lansbury (winner);
    • 1990 - Beth Fowler;
    • 2006 - Patti LuPone.
  • Also with 3 nominations is the female lead role of Charity Hope Valentine in Sweet Charity. Between each nomination there has been a gap of nearly two decades:
    • 1966 - Gwen Verdon;
    • 1986 - Debbie Allen;
    • 2005 - Christina Applegate;

However, not once has an actress won a Tony Award for this role.

  • Mary Martin is the only actress to win an award in this category by portraying a male character. In 1955, she won the Tony for her performance as the title character in Peter Pan. Two other actresses were nominated for playing this same character:
    • 1980 - Sandy Duncan;
    • 1991 - Cathy Rigby;

In 1989, Charlotte d'Amboise was also nominated in this category, for a multitude of characters portrayed in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, amongst them, Peter Pan.

  • Chita Rivera is the first and, so far, only actress to be nominated for a Tony Award by portraying herself. In 2006, she was honored for her performance in Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, which offered a retrospective of her career on Broadway.
  • Lotte Lenya is the first Tony Award-winner to be turned into a character whose portrayal has earned a Tony Award nomination for a fellow actress. Lenya was nominated for the Tony for Leading Actress in 1967 for her performance in "Cabaret" (and won the 1956 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in The Threepenny Opera). Forty years later, and over 25 years after her passing, her romance with Kurt Weill was transformed into the musical Lovemusik. Actress Donna Murphy embodied the character and earned the fourth Tony nomination of her career in this category.
  • Chita Rivera holds the record for most nominations (7), winning twice. Second is Bernadette Peters with 6 nominations,also winning twice. The record of victories, however, belongs to Angela Lansbury with 4 wins out of 4 nominations.
  • Chita Rivera also shares the record for most nominations in a single decade. She was nominated four times in the 1980s: 1981, 1983, 1984 and 1986. She won in 1984, for her performance in The Rink. Sutton Foster was also nominated four times in the 2000s: 2002, 2005, 2006, and 2009. She won in 2002 for Thoroughly Modern Millie.
  • Gwen Verdon is the only one to achieve the honor of two consecutive victories in this category, in 1958 (albeit tied with Thelma Ritter) and 1959. Other consecutive nominations include: Inga Swenson (1964/1965), Barbara Harris (1966/1967), Chita Rivera (1983/1984) and Sutton Foster (2005/2006);
  • Both Dee Hoty and Julie Andrews have been nominated three times, but neither one has won. They are the category’s greatest “losers”. Andrews had refused to accept her third nomination, for Victor/Victoria, feeling that the cast and production crew of the musical had been neglected by the American Theatre Wing/Broadway League.
  • One of the greatest winners in Tony Awards history, with 5 wins and 9 nominations in the category Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, Julie Harris has been nominated once as a Leading Actress in a Musical, in 1966, for her performance in Skyscraper, the only Broadway musical she has appeared in. She did not win.

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