This year's recipient of the Margo Jones Medal is 93-year-old cartoonist, Al Hirschfeld, who continues to draw his legendary caricatures of Broadway performers for the New York Times. David LeVine, chairman of the selection committee, told Playbill On-Line the Margo Jones Medal is given to a citizen of the theatre "who's demonstrated a commitment to the theatre and especially to playwriting, which Al has done with great humor and for many years."
Previous winners of the Medal have included late Washington DC critic, Richard Coe; critic Henry Hewes, publisher Otis Guernsey (Best Plays Annual), actress/N.E.A. chairman Jane Alexander, and producer Robert Whitehead. Hirschfeld was supposed to receive his medal (and small stipend) at this year's Inge Festival in Independence, KS, but the cartoonist doesn't fly, and train travel was too circuitous. Instead, the committee visited Hirschfeld in his Manhattan home/studio, taped five minutes with the maestro, then created a short video utilizing that material plus clips from the documentary about Hirschfeld's life, The Line King.
The video was screened at the Inge Fest, but since Hirschfeld couldn't attend, the Jones committee is throwing him a private supper, May 13, at Sardi's Restaurant in mid-town Manhattan. Expected to attend are Hewes, Guernsey, Whitehead, and Janet & Lucy Lee, wife and daughter of the late playwright, Robert E. Lee. (Producer/director Jones was instrumental in developing Lawrence & Lee's Inherit The Wind, as she was in beginning the regional theatre movement. Lawrence & Lee started the Margo Jones Award after Jones died in 1955, honoring those who helped the trend of regional theatre. Years later, with regional theatre firmly established across the country, the Award was changed to a Medal, specifically devoted to people who helped nurture the craft of playwriting.
--By David Lefkowitz