Eliza Doolittle Day, celebrated on May 20, is an annual, unofficial observance of when Eliza Doolittle first encounters Professor Henry Higgins in the original stage production of “My Fair Lady.” It’s been 58 years since “My Fair Lady” was first performed at the Embassy Theatre, and Audrey Hepburn starred in a revival of the play through the film adaptation in 1964. In the musical based on Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” a Cockney flower girl named Eliza Doolittle is taken in by a phonetician Professor Henry Higgins, who teaches her how to speak properly
History of Eliza Doolittle Day
First performed on Broadway on this day in 1956 and based on George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion,” “My Fair Lady” was a smash hit that quickly became the longest-running musical up to that point. The story tells of the transformation of a lowly Cockney flower girl into a lady through the ministrations of a phonetics expert.
The show won six Tony Awards in 1956, including Best Musical and Best Leading Actor for Rex Harrison, and Julie Andrews’ performance as Eliza Doolittle. It also won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and in 1964 it was made into a film starring Harrison and Hepburn whose dazzling performance won her an Oscar. Another screen version was made in 2020, starring Colin Firth as Henry Higgins and Emma Stone as Eliza.
Actress Lauren Ambrose played the role of Eliza Doolittle in the 2018 Lincoln Center Theater revival of “My Fair Lady” on Broadway, for which she was nominated for the 2018 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical and won the 2018 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. Alternate, Kirsten Anderson has been Ambrose’s understudy on Broadway until Laura Benanti replaced Ambrose at the beginning of October 2018 to perform the role until July 2019.
Eliza Doolittle Day is observed each May 20 by Fans of “My Fair Lady” and derives from the song from the film titled “Just You Wait,” sung by Eliza, which includes the passage: “Next week on May 20, I proclaim Liza Doolittle Day.”
Eliza Doolittle Day timeline
Shaw writes the play in early 1912 and reads it to famed actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell in June.
“My Fair Lady” is a musical based on Shaw’s 1912 play “Pygmalion.”
Audrey Hepburn plays the role in the highly successful film musical “My Fair Lady.”
Lauren Ambrose plays the role in the 2018 Lincoln Center Theater revival of “My Fair Lady” on Broadway and is nominated for the 2018 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Eliza Doolittle Day FAQs
What is Eliza Doolittle's accent?
She is a London flower girl with a strong cockney accent who is then taught by a language expert, Professor Henry Higgins, to speak like an upper-class woman.
Do Eliza and Higgins fall in love?
The leading characters, Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins spend most of their time worrying about how words are supposed to sound. They never kiss nor do they admit any feelings for each other.
Who sang for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady movie?
That’s Marni Nixon on the soundtrack of the film “My Fair Lady.”
Eliza Doolittle Day Activities
Read George Bernard Shaw's “Pygmalion”
Look for Shaw's play and read it to understand the life of Eliza Doolittle. That way, you can observe Eliza Doolittle Day in more depth.
Watch the musical film "My Fair Lady"
Watch the “Pygmalion” adaptation in musical form. One of the most famous films was the 1964 version in which Audrey Hepburn played Eliza Doolittle.
Read the lyrics of "Just You Wait"
Listen to and sing "Just You Wait" by following Eliza Doolittle's expressions and movements in the musical. After that, interpret the meaning behind each of the lyrics.
5 Fascinating Facts About The “My Fair Lady” Musical Film
Harrison played Henry Higgins 2,000 times
Before making "My Fair Lady," Harrison had played Professor Henry Higgins more than 2,000 times on Broadway.
Hepburn and Harrison did not get along
The two actors reportedly never spoke to each other when they weren't filming “My Fair Lady.”
Harrison was known for being very difficult on set and yelling at cast members if they messed up their lines or made any other mistakes during rehearsals or filming.
Higgins was inspired by a real person
The character was based on Alexander Melville Bell, the inventor of Visible Speech, which helped deaf people learn how to speak.
Audrey Hepburn is the right choice
Lyricist and book writer Alan Jay Lerner had Hepburn in mind while writing the script as the most suitable actress for the role.
Why We Love Eliza Doolittle Day
It makes us honest with ourselves
It's a day for asking yourself whether you’re being true to yourself, in your relationships with other people, your job, and even how you dress. If not, it's a day to make a change.
It makes us appreciate people
Eliza Doolittle Day is a time for recognizing the people in our lives who have helped us become the best versions of ourselves. It is a time for us to thank and appreciate those who, like Henry Higgins, invest their time and effort into helping others grow and improve in life.
It gives us strength
It encourages us to pick ourselves up when we are faced with life’s many challenges. It’s an opportunity to transform ourselves, even if we have to start all over again.
Eliza Doolittle Day dates