The idea for Kiss Me, Kate came from producer Arnold Saint-Subber.
In 1935, while working as a stagehand for the Theatre Guild's production of
The Taming of the Shrew, he noticed that Alfred Lunt and Lynn
Fontanne were involved in a relationship that was almost as tempestuous offstage
as it was onstage in their roles as Petruccio and Katherine. With the book
written by Sam (Columbia College, Class of 1919) and Bella Spewack, and the
music and lyrics written by Cole Porter, with liberal use of Shakespeare's
dialogue for the "onstage" musical numbers, Kiss Me, Kate opened on
December 30, 1948 at the New Century Theatre and ran for 1070 performances. It
won five "Tony" Awards in 1949, the second year of the awards and the first time
that musicals were honored separately, including this one given to the Spewacks,
and awards for "Best Musical," and "Best Score." The award for "Best Play" was
given to Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.
The Spewack Papers contain a large amount of material relating to the
creation, production, and performance of their works for stage, screen, radio
and television; Bella Spewack's work for various charitable organizations
including UNRRA; and the manuscripts of novels, short stories and articles
written by the Spewacks.