Edith Oliver, a native New Yorker who from 1961 to 1992 reviewed Off-Broadway and Broadway plays for The New Yorker, died Feb. 23 at her home in Manhattan. She was 84.
Oliver's reviews were always lively and intelligent, and she was known to be especially sympathetic toward actors -- perhaps because of the fact that early in her career, after attending Smith College, she was an actress-apprentice at The Berkshire Playhouse in Stockbridge, MA.
In the 1930s she wrote material for the comic Phil Baker and performed on radio shows including "Crime Doctor" and the "Philip Morris Playhouse." From 1937 to 1941 she wrote the questions and answers for a WOR radio quiz show, "True or False," and from 1940 to the early 1950s, she wrote for and subsequently produced "Take It or Leave It" and "The $64 Question" for CBS and NBC.
Oliver first began contributing to The New Yorker in 1947 -- when she was working as a casting director for the Biow Agency.
She served as dramaturge for the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, CT, for 20 seasons. Although associates there have described her as a feisty woman who on occasion had a "mouth like a sailor," former colleagues at The New Yorker contacted today by Playbill On-Line remember her differently -- as "a very congenial woman" and "a real lady." She is survived by a brother, Robert Goldsmith.
-- By Rebecca Paller