1999 Necrology: Playbill On-Line Remembers Stage Folk Who Died

News   1999 Necrology: Playbill On-Line Remembers Stage Folk Who Died A Broadway actor who memorably played Gen. Patton on film. A songwriter who made Oliver Twist sing. A director who boldly revived the Gershwin brothers on Broadway.
Director Mike Ockrent; director-playwright Garson Kanin; actress Madeline Kahn.
Director Mike Ockrent; director-playwright Garson Kanin; actress Madeline Kahn.

A Broadway actor who memorably played Gen. Patton on film. A songwriter who made Oliver Twist sing. A director who boldly revived the Gershwin brothers on Broadway.

George C. Scott (Inherit the Wind, "Patton"), Lionel Bart (Oliver!) and Mike Ockrent (Crazy For You), respectively, spring to mind as major industry names who died in 1999, leaving memories -- and, happily, some physical documents -- of their artistry and craft. Yet, over the last 12 months, hundreds of other theatre people -- popular and obscure -- also passed, leaving their own unique stamp, whether it was local or international: Cabaret stars (Anne Francine), strippers (Ann Corio, Lili St. Cyr), stage managers (Franklin Keysar), directors (Del Close, Jose Quintero), playwrights (Garson Kanin), songwriters (George Forrest), designers (Ben Edwards, Anthony Duquette, Patricia Zipprodt), film and stage actors (Richard Kiley, Henry Jones), actresses (Madeline Kahn, Peggy Cass), producers (Allan Carr, Norman Rothstein) and more.

The following is selected list of theatre-related people who died in 1999. It is drawn from Playbill On-Line's obituary archive, which can be searched by typing in a keyword (such as "Ockrent" or "Bart") in the News section on the PBOL homepage.

* • Ron Abbott, 57, stage manager for Broadway's That Championship Season, Otherwise Engaged, Eubie and the Dustin Hoffman-directed All Over Town, April 3, of a heart attack.

Mary Manning Adams, an Irish novelist, actress, playwright and critic who collaborated with Samuel Beckett and lived part of her life in the Boston area, where she founded Poet's Theater of Cambridge, June 25, of kidney failure in Cambridge, MA.

William Alfred, 76, the playwright, poet and professor whose best-known work was Hogan's Goat, starring a young Faye Dunaway, May 20 in Cambridge, MA.

Ian Bannen, 71, the Scottish actor who appeared in the recent film, "Waking Ned Devine," and played Eugene O'Neill roles in London, and acted with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Nov. 3, in a car crash near Loch Ness, Scotland.

Lionel Bart, 68, the British songwriter who wrote book, music and lyrics for the smash hit, Oliver!, giving the world "As Long As He Needs Me," "Consider Yourself" and "Where Is Love?," April 4, of cancer.

Patrick Bedford, 67, the Irish actor who shared an unusual dual Best Actor Tony Award nomination with Donal Donnelly for Philadelphia, Here I Come!, Nov. 20, of cancer, in Manhattan.

John Berry, 82, the film and stage director who performed with and assisted Orson Welles' during the time of Welles and John Houseman's Mercury Theatre, and staged Athol Fugard's work in New York, Nov. 29, in Paris.

Chili Bouchier, 89, British actress who sang "Broadway Baby" in the London production of Follies and had success in film as Britain's answer to Clara Bow, Sept. 9, of natural causes.

Faubion Bowers, 82, an expert on Kabuki theatre credited with preserving the art during his time serving as a military aid in occupied Japan, after World War II, Nov. 16 in Manhattan.

Paul Bowles, the author and composer who wrote "The Sheltering Sky" and collaborated on scores for plays by Tennessee Williams, William Saroyan and Orson Welles' Federal Theatre Project, Nov. 18, after a heart attack, in a Tangier hospital.

David Brooks, 83, the actor who introduced such songs as "Almost Like Being in Love" and "The Heather on the Hill" in Brigadoon and "Right as the Rain" and "Evelina" in Bloomer Girl, and later directed in Italy, March 31, in Manhattan.

Vanessa Brown, 71, the actress who starred in The Seven Year Itch and, as a child, in Lillian's Hellman's Watch On the Rhine, May 21 of cancer in Los Angeles.

Allan Carr, 62, the flamboyant theatre and film producer who presented Broadway's La Cage aux Folles and the film "Grease," June 29, of cancer, on Los Angeles.

Carmine "Skippy" Caracciolo, 79, a composing room and printing room mainstay at Playbill magazine for more than 60 years, May 7, killed by a mugger in New York City.

Peggy Cass, 74, the gravel-voiced character actress who won a 1957 Tony Award for playing the frumpy Agnes Gooch in Auntie Mame, March 8, of heart failure, in Manhattan.

Donald Christopher, who appeared in more than 100 regional theatre productions around the country since 1978, when he left a teaching career, June 4, of cancer.

Del Close, 64, a legendary director and influence on countless Second City performers and a towering figure in the Chicago theatre, of heart and respiratory disease, in Chicago.

Ann Corio, thought to be more than 80, one of the last of the major burlesque talents from the heyday of that theatrical phenomenon, who exploited her career in a Broadway and touring revue called This Was Burlesque, March 1, in Englewood, NJ.

Quentin Crisp, 90, the British-born New Yorker, gay icon, writer and performer and spiritual heir to Oscar Wilde, of the solo show, An Evening With Quentin Crisp, Nov. 21, in Manchester, England.

Marguerite Cullman, 94, a Broadway investor who put dough into the original Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Death of a Salesman and A Streetcar Named Desire, July 25, in New York.

Sadie Delany, 109, half of the pair of "colored" -- their term -- sisters portrayed in Emily Mann's popular, two-character bio-play, Having Our Say, Jan. 25, while sleeping in her Mt. Vernon, NY, home.

Anthony Duquette, 85, who, with Adrian, designed costumes for Broadway's original Camelot, and designed for Can-Can and Kismet, Sept. 9, of complications from a heart attack, in California.

Ben Edwards, 82, one of the major post-World War II American scenic designers (A Few Good Men, West Side Waltz, The Time of the Cuckoo, Purlie Victorious), who also designed costumes and lighting, Feb. 12, of pneumonia associated with lymphoma, in Manhattan.

Andre Ernotte, 55, the Belgian-born stage director of Bed and Sofa and Christina Alberta’s Father at the Vineyard Theatre, and other Off-Broadway and regional productions, March 8, of liver disease.

George Forrest, the songwriter who, with Robert Wright, penned lyrics and wrote music for Kismet, Grand Hotel, Song of Norway and other musicals, Oct. 10, after suffering a massive stroke,in Florida.

Anne Francine, 82, the Broadway actress and cabaret performer who was part of Manhattan's cafe society heyday in the 1940s and 1950s, Dec. 3, after a stroke, in Connecticut.

Haskel Frankel, 73, a theatre writer and critic who reviewed plays for The New York Times' Westchester and Connecticut Weekly sections, and who assisted Uta Hagen in the writing of "Respect for Acting," Nov. 3, after a short illness.

Marion Gilsenan, 63, British-born Canadian actress who appeared with Canadian Stage Company and the Stratford and Shaw festivals, Jan. 11, of cancer, in Toronto.

Frances Godowsky, 92, a onetime singer and the sister to George and Ira Gershwin, the last surviving Gershwin sibling, Jan. 18, in Manhattan.

William Goodhart, 74, playwright who penned Generation, a Broadway hit in 1965-66, Oct. 20, of heart disease.

Ronny Graham, 79, the actor-writer-comedian who wrote for the Broadway revue New Faces of 1952 and lyrics for the tuner, Bravo, Giovanni, and may be best known as a collaborator with Mel Brooks, July 4, of liver disease, in Los Angeles.

Jerzy Grotowski, 65, Polish director and one of the most influential directors, authors ("Towards a Poor Theater"), theatrical innovators and acting teachers of the 20th century, Jan. 14, of leukemia, in Pontedera, Italy.

Huntz Hall, 78, the comic actor best known for being one of the Bowery Boys on film, but whose screen persona was launched on Broadway in the play, Dead End, Jan. 30 of heart failure.

James Hammerstein, 67, producer-director son of musical theatre legend Oscar Hammerstein II and a frequent director of his father's work and the work of many playwrights, Jan. 7, after a heart attack, in Manhattan.

J. Haran, an actor and member of Sacred Fools Theatre Company in Los Angeles, Sept. 28, of cancer, in Los Angeles.

Gilbert O. Herman, 80, an actor and Air Force officer who appeared in the World War II drama, Winged Victory, Sept. 6, in Annapolis, MD.

William Hindman, father of Miami Herald theatre critic Christine Dolen and a veteran South Florida actor who replaced Jason Robards as Hickey in Jose Quintero's famous Off-Broadway staging of The Iceman Cometh, July 9, of complications from cancer surgery, in Florida.

Don Howard, 47, an actor and stage manager who was actor Ken Howard's brother and appeared on Broadway in Alone Together with Janice Paige and West Side Waltz with Katharine Hepburn, Aug. 14, of liver disease, in Manhasset, NY.

Venable Herndon, 72, a playwright, biographer and screenwriter who taught in New York University's dramatic writing program, Dec. 8, of acute leukemia, in Manhattan.

Dorrie Joiner, 39, a New York stage, film and television actress who appeared in the New York companies of Steel Magnolias (as Annelle) and Fortune's Fools, Jan. 6, after a long illness, in New York City.

Henry Jones, 86, the Tony Award-winning character actor whose face was seen in theatre, film and TV, including Broadway's Sunrise at Campobello and The Bad Seed, May 17, in Los Angeles.

Madeline Kahn, 57, a 1993 Tony Award winner for playing Dr. Gorgeous in The Sisters Rosensweig, and a stage veteran from New Faces, Two by Two, In the Boom Boom Room and On the 20th Century, but best-known for playing gorgeously baroque vamps in the Mel Brooks films, Dec. 3, of ovarian cancer.

Lucille Kallen, 76, a playwright (Broadway's Maybe Tuesday) and a member of the famous collective of writers who weekly produced Sid Caesar's classic television program, "Your Show of Shows," Jan. 18, in Ardsley, NY.

Sarah Kane, 28, the enfant terrible playwright of British theatre, author of sometimes gruesome and dark work (Blasted, Cleansed and Crave), Feb. 20, of suicide, in England.

Garson Kanin, 86, the multifaceted novelist, playwright, director, librettist and screenwriter whose Born Yesterday was one of the first major hits of postwar American theatre, March 13, after a long illness in Manhattan.

Elliott Keener, 49, one of the leading actor directors in the New Orleans theatre community, a founding faculty member at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Jan. 14, of a heart attack in New Orleans.

Franklin Keysar, 60, Broadway stage manager considered one of the great unseen forces in several major New York productions of the past 30 years (The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Driving Miss Daisy), Jan. 25, of liver cancer in New York City.

Richard Kiley, 76, the Tony Award-winning actor who made "The Impossible Dream" soar in the Broadway musical, Man of La Mancha, and also sang in Kismet, Redhead and No Strings, March 5, of bone marrow disease, in Warwick, NY.

Mabel King, 66, who raised the roof in Broadway's The Wiz, as the wicked witch, Evillene, Nov. 9, after a long illness, in California.

Stewart Klein, 66, theatre critic for New York City's Channel 5 for more than 30 years, known for venturing to smaller venues, May 9, of colon cancer.

Gilman Kraft, former owner of Playbill Magazine and President of the West Coast-based Performing Arts magazine, June 27, of cancer.

Fran Rogers Krajewski, 64, a Michigan drama critic whose work appeared in The Flint Journal, and who was active in Flint Youth Theatre, Aug. 19, of a rare autoimmune disease, in Ann Arbor, MI.

Henry J. Kurth, a lighting and set designer who designed as many as 450 productions (including Broadway's Heloise) and later taught at Case Western University, June 6 in Cleveland.

Jacques Lecoq, 77, mime, theatre director and influential movement-theatre teacher, Jan. 19, from a cerebral hemorrhage, at a Paris hospital.

Douglas Leigh, 92, the man responsible for creating the glittery, technologically-ambitious, ad-splashed look of the modern Times Square (the Bond and Camel electric billboards), Dec. 14, in Manhattan.

Bethel Leslie, 70, the stage and film actress who earned a Best Featured Actress Tony Award nomination as the drug-addicted mother in A Long Day's Journey Into Night on Broadway in 1986, Nov. 28, of cancer, in Manhattan.

Samuel Leve, 91, a Broadway and New York scenic, lighting and costume designer whose work for Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre (Julius Caesar, The Shoemaker's Holiday) appeared during the politically and artistically feverish late Depression years, Dec. 6, in Manhattan.

Lyle Leverich, 79, the producer and writer who chronicled the first 34 years of Tennessee Williams' life in the authorized 1995 biography, "Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams," Dec. 17 in California.

Hanoch Levin, 56, the Israeli playwright director who was a major voice in Israeli theatre for such works as Murder, which explored Palestinian-Israeli violence, and You, Me and the Next War (1968), a harbinger of future strife in the region, Aug. 18, of cancer.

Ron Link, 58, a director of Off-Off Broadway and regional productions, including work at New York City's Caffe Cino and La Mama, ETC., June 7 in Los Angeles, of complications following surgery.

Lucille Lortel, 98, dubbed "Queen of Off Broadway" for her early and continuing efforts to produce and promote new or underappreciated playwrights in Manhattan's smaller-venue professional theatres, April 4, after a brief illness in New York City.

Charles Lowe, 87, producer of television's "George Burns & Gracie Allen Show" and, for four decades, husband-manager of actress Carol Channing, Sept. 2.

George Luscombe, founder of Toronto Workshop Productions and one of Canada's major alternative theatre practitioners in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Feb. 5, of heart failure, in Canada.

Charles Macaulay, 72, a stage and TV actor who appeared in New York, touring and regional theatre, plus "Perry Mason" TV movies, Aug. 13, of cancer, in California.

Victor Mature, 86, the movie star whose pecs were seen in gladiator movies and Biblical pictures in the 1940s and '50s, but who got his start as a stage actor and appeared in Lady in the Dark, Aug. 4, of cancer, in southern California.

Donal McCann, 56, Irish actor lauded for his performance as a Dublin police chief in Sebastian Barry's The Steward of Christendom, July 17, of pancreatic cancer, in Dublin.

Elizabeth McCormick, 89, an American playwright and director in the 1930s and '40s, a time of few women directors, Aug. 15, after a long illness, in New York.

Buzz Miller, 75, the former Broadway dancer who strutted to "Steam Heat" in the Broadway musical, The Pajama Game, and also in its film version, Feb. 23, of emphysema, in Manhattan.

Anthony Newley, 67, the singer-songwriter known for his performances and scores for the stage musicals, Stop the World -- I Want to Get Off and The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd, April 14, of cancer, in Jensen Beach, FL.

Mike Ockrent, 53, British-born director and one of the creators of Crazy for You, and director of Big and Me and My Girl, husband of choreographer Susan Stroman, Dec. 2, of acute leukemia, in New York City.

Armando Perez, 51, founder of Charas/El Bohio Cultural Community Center, a space for artists, actors and dancers in New York's East Village, April 3, after an attack in New York City.

Charles Pierce, 72, female impersonator who paved the way for other actors to fearlessly play women, and was known for his saucy, frisky impersonations of Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Katharine Hepburn and others, May 31 of cancer and stroke in North Hollywood.

Maria Ley Piscator, 101, the teacher-director and widow of the revolutionary European director, Erwin Piscator, Oct. 14, in Manhattan.

Jose Quintero, 74, the Panama-born director whose work began in summer stock and escalated into a major American career that included legendary revivals of works by Eugene O'Neill, Feb. 26, of cancer, in New York City.

Irving Rapper, 101, the onetime stage actor and director who went on to direct Hollywood's "Now, Voyager" and more than 20 other films, Dec. 20, in Los Angeles.

Oliver Reed, 61, the stocky British actor who played the villain Bill Sikes in the film version of the musical, "Oliver!," May 2, in Malta.

Bert Remsen, 74, the character actor who started on the New York stage (Broadway's The Rainmaker, Diamond Lil) before moving west to roles on TV and film, April 22 in southern California.

Lee Richardson, 73, a featured actor Tony Award nominee for 1971's Vivat! Vivat Regina!, and a founding member of the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Oct. 2, of cardiac arrest, in New York City.

Don Roberts, 64, a theatre and television scenic designer who designed the TV living room set of "All in the Family," and directed and designed in Los Angeles theatres, Jan. 10, of a brain tumor in Los Angeles.

Norman Rossington, 70, the British character actor who appeared in the London version of Beauty and the Beast as well as a number of TV series and films, May 21, of cancer, in Manchester, England.

Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild, 79, arts supporter and philanthropist, April 20, after a long illness.

Norman Rothstein, 63, the theatrical producer, general manager and consultant, of Norman Rothstein & Associates, linked to hundreds of international projects and productions (including off and on Broadway), Dec. 23, of cancer, in Manhattan.

Ernie Schier, former theatre critic for the now defunct Philadelphia Bulletin and Director of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, CT, Jan. 11, of cancer.

Paul Schmidt, 65, a librettist and translator of Chekhov plays who worked in avant garde theatre, Feb. 19, of complications from AIDS, in New York City.

Stefan Schnabel, 87, the Berlin-born character actor whose career spanned from London's Old Vic to American radio dramas, Broadway, films and a TV soap opera, March 11, of a heart attack, in Rogaro, Italy.

Judy Schoen, 57, a Los Angeles-based theatrical agent (and former regional and Broadway actress) who represented Brian Dennehy, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kyle Chandler and others, Oct. 29, of lung cancer.

George C. Scott, 71, the rare modern movie star ("Patton," "Dr. Strangelove") who also spent a life upon the stage (Plaza Suite, Present Laughter, National Actors Theatre's Inherit the Wind), Sept. 23, in California.

Mercedes Shirley, 71, Broadway and television actress of Broadway's Desperate Hours, Heartbreak House with Beatrice Arthur and The Father with Raymond Massey and Grace Kelly, Jan. 29, of natural causes, in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Richard B. Shull, 70, the character actor appearing in Epic Proportions on Broadway, who performed in The Marriage of Bette and Boo and The Front Page for director Jerry Zaks and earned a Tony nomination for the musical, Goodtime Charley, Oct. 14, suddenly, of a heart attack, in Manhattan.

Irving Siders, 81, New York producer linked to tours and stagings of Dancin' and Dreamgirls, among other productions, Oct. 13, following a heart attack.

Sylvia Sidney, 88, stage and screen actress who appeared on the New York stage in Gods of the Lightning (1928), Bad Girl (1930), To Quito And Back (1937), Gentle People (1939), Enter Laughing (1963) and Vieux Carre (1977), June 1, of throat cancer.

Shel Silverstein, 67, the beloved children's writer, illustrator, poet, songwriter and playwright whose "The Giving Tree" and "Where the Sidewalk Ends" touched millions of readers, May 10, of a heart attack, in Key West, FL.

Stanley Simmonds, 92, onetime vaudevillian and character actor who appeared in Broadway's Li'l Abner, Fiorello!, Mack and Mabel and Call Me Madam, Dec. 19, of natural causes, in New York.

Stanley Simmons, 71, a theatre costume designer whose credits included Lena: The Lady and Her Music and original productions of Tennessee Williams' Garden District and Bar of a Tokyo Hotel, Sept. 4 of heart failure.

Stanley Soble, 59, theatrical casting director whose credits include major regional companies such as the Mark Taper Forum and Broadway's Jelly's Last Jam, Big River and The Pirates of Penzance, July 6, of complications from surgery, in Los Angeles.

Susan Strasberg, 60, actress and original Broadway star of The Diary of Anne Frank, daughter of famed Method-master Lee Strasberg, of cancer, Jan. 20.

Danielle Surrette, 30, an actress, writer, director and producer who helped found Sacred Fools Theater Company in Los Angeles, July 1, as a result of a car accident in the desert north of the city.

Carl Toms, Tony and Olivier Award-winning scenic designer for opera, theatre and film who won a Tony for designing Sherlock Holmes, Aug. 4, of emphysema, in Hertfordshire, England.

Frank Wagner, 77, a director-choreographer who choreographed Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1968, the revue that helped launch Madeline Kahn and Robert Klein, Sept. 12, in Fort Myers, FL.

Senor Wences, 103, the Spanish-born ventriloquist who delighted generations of audiences in vaudeville, tours and TV, in New York City.

Norman Wexler, 73, the playwright and screenwriter whose script for "Saturday Night Fever" is the basis for the hit London and Broadway musical, Aug. 23, of a heart attack, in Washington DC.

Patricia Zipprodt, 75, the Tony Award winning costume designer who created the "look" for Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, the pointillistic characters in Sunday in the Park With George, and the seedy denizens of the original Cabaret, July 17, of cancer, in New York City.

-- By Kenneth Jones