Show History



The Unsinkable Molly Brown is a fictionalized account of the life of Margaret Brown, who infamously survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and her wealthy miner-husband. The legend of Molly Brown was born in the 1930s by writers who sensationalized actual events and completely fabricated others in order to sell their work. Since then such legends have become the source material and jumping off point for countless stories, including the 1960 musical.


With a book my Richard Morris and music and lyrics by Meredith Willson, The Unsinkable Molly Brown opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on November 3,1960, and closed on February 10, 1962, after 532 performances and 1 preview. Directed by Dore Schary and choreographed by Peter Gennaro, the new musical starred Tammy Grimes as Molly and Harve Presnell as Johnny.

The first West End production, with Abi Finley and Sean Pol McGreevy in the leading roles, opened in May 2009.

Earlier in 2009 a revised version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown began to undergo work by Dick Scanlan, who previously adapted another of Richard Morris works, Thoroughly Modern Millie. The retooled version has continued to be developed and will debut in a full production at the Denver Center Theatre Company this fall under the direction of Kathleen Marshall.

Cultural Influence

  • The Unsinkable Molly Brown was made into a movie musical in 1964 starring Debbie Reynolds, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.
  • An original Broadway cast album was released by Capitol Records on vinyl and later on CD on September 23, 2008.


  • The Unsinkable Molly Brown was the second hit from Meredith Willson, the Midwestern bandleader and radio personality who also wrote The Music Man.
  • Harve Presnell, who originated the role of Johnny in the Broadway company, is the only person to reprise his role in the film adaptation. He later went on to reprise the role again in a 1989-1990 tour with Debbie Reynolds.
  • Meredith Willson was a flutist with John Phillip Sousa in the 1920s.

  • Broadway's Titanic is the second time the great ship has sunk in a musical on the Great White Way. The original production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown included a lavish depiction of the sinking of the ship and Molly rallying the troops in her lifeboat.

  • Molly Brown's home in Denver, Colorado continues to play host to thousands of tourists each year.