Bob Holiday, Broadway's First Superman
Bob Holiday's Publicity Portfolio


Bob's final play was a hit musical with music by Burt Bacharach, with book by Neil Simon!*

After Superman closed, Bob Holiday was admittedly disappointed. With his ever-present positive attitude, he made the decision to leave New York and head to California. He was sure good things awaited him there. In his first big break in the Golden State, he played Beauregard Burnside opposite Ann Miller in Mame. After that, he landed the role of J.D. Sheldrake in Promises, Promises. His first performances were at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, and then he went on tour. All told, Bob Holiday played J.D. Sheldrake for the better part of two years, both in the U.S. and Canada, earning two mentions in the International Broadway Data Base for two separate and official nationwide touring companies (first and second).

Enjoy the photos we present here, documenting the different actors and actresses who appeared with Bob in in Promises, Promises over the years. Below each photo, we've reproduced the notes from the back of the photo.

Program Cover
Bob Holiday as J.D. Sheldrake

Notes from back of photo, including a clip from a Chicago newspaper:
Robert Holiday, JUN 22 1971, 6:30, 21 1/2

Even if you haven't seen "Promises, Promises" playing in Chicago you probably would recognize some of the main characters. Since Barney Martin, Bob Holiday, and Jack Kruschen came to town with the play last November, they have been busy making local and national commercials here, so you probably have seen their faces in ads for Illinois Bell Telephone Co., Montgomery Ward & Co., and Standard Oil Co. [Indiana].
Holiday, who plays the villain in the play, has been so busy he thinks he may just stay. "In the production of commercials, Chicago has the potential of becoming city number one [beating out New York and Los Angeles], and I may stay after the show leaves in September and give working here permanently a shot."
"Promises, Promises" is expected to go to Houston next, and Holiday said, "If I travel with the show, I won't be able ..." And there, sadly, the rest of the article was trimmed off.

Notes from back of photo:
1970 NOV, 8 PM, 11 37 ENGRAVING DEPT.

Swinging executive J. D. Sheldrake [Bob Holiday] tries his charms on waitress Fran Kubelik [Melissa Hart] in "Promises, Promises."

Bob Holiday and Melissa Hart
Bob Holiday and Melissa Hart

Notes from back of photo:
R + R Plays, 2 Col 4 1/2 PROMISES p.5,
Bob Holiday and Melissa Hart in "Promises, Promises" The Neil Simon—Burt Bacharach—Hal David Musical Hit Presented by David Merrick SHUBERT THEATRE

Melissa Hart in a talkative mood with Bob Holiday in the Shubert's big musical hit, "Promises, Promises."

Notes from back of photo:

BOB HOLIDAY, the handsome, but two-timing insurance executive, gives MELISSA HART one of her rare occasions to laugh in the David Merrick musical hit, "PROMISES, PROMISES," by Neil Simon, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, which starts its seventh month at the Shubert Theatre on May 3rd.

Bob Holiday and Melissa Hart
Bob Holiday and Ilene Graff

Notes from back of photo:
Please Credit ZODIAC PHOTOGRAPHERS, JOS. ABELES - SY FRIEDMAN, 351 W. 54 ST N.Y. 10019 CI5-7465, FEB 12 1972

ILENE GRAFF and BOB HOLIDAY, two of the leading performers in "PROMISES, PROMISES," the hit Broadway musical which David Merrick will present here soon. Based on the Oscar-winning movie, "The Apartment," "PROMISES, PROMISES," was written by Neil Simon, has a score by Burt Bacharach (including the popular "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," and lyrics by Hal David.

Personal note: On one of our weekly phone calls, I told Bob that I'd won this photo on Ebay. I asked him, "Do you remember Ilene Graff?" All I can tell you is that he replied with a most enthusiastic, "Oh, YES!"

From the souvenir program:

Bob Holiday bio

A quick check on Ebay showed that Bob Holiday toured far and wide in Promises, Promises. Currently (3/24/2023) listed are programs from Los Angeles, CA (1970); San Diego, CA (1970); Cleveland, OH (1971); Pittsburgh, PA (1971); and Toronto, Canada (1972). The programs list different stars and co-stars, but Bob Holiday was the golden thread running through these many performances.

Sadly, live theater is rarely preserved, but if you’d like to get a flavor of the role of J.D. Sheldrake, watch this clip from The Apartment starring Jack Lemon as Chuck Baxter and Fred MacMurry as J.D. Sheldrake.

Promises, Promises was Bob Holiday’s final professional role. As he said in his autobiography Superman on Broadway by Bob Holiday and Chuck Harter, c.2003:

Through late 1972, I appeared in a few more revivals of "Promises." While I always enjoyed performing in front of a live audience, I felt that my life was heading in another direction. There are always ups and downs in any actor's career, and I had enjoyed a mostly successful 20 year stint as a performer. There had been many moments of glory with the pinnacle being my two years as Superman. The uncertainty of making a living in show business began to affect me.
Around 1973–1974, I traveled to a small town in Pennsylvania, called Hawley. I loved the area, the atmosphere and the people. I bought some land and got involved with a real estate firm. I found that I really enjoyed working with people, meeting people and being creative in this new field. It was also great to be in control of my own destiny.

In an odd coincidence, Neil Simon wrote the book for Promises, Promises, Bob Holiday's final play. Believe it or not, the name of the Alvin Theatre—home of "It's a Bird It's a Plane It's Superman©"—was eventually changed to (drum roll, please) the Neil Simon Theatre.

Photos Courtesy the Estate of Bob Holiday
and the personal collection of Toni Collins
Text ©2023 and various newspapers (not easily traced)
Punctuation, spelling and grammar reproduced from original
Superman on Broadway, ©2003 Bob Holiday and Chuck Harter
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