Elliot Martin, Prolific Broadway Producer, Dies at 93

Obituaries   Elliot Martin, Prolific Broadway Producer, Dies at 93
 
Mr. Martin received a Special Tony Award in 1974 for producing the revival of A Moon for the Misbegotten.
Elliot Martin
Elliot Martin
Ed Flanders, Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst in <i>A Moon for the Misbegotten</i>
Ed Flanders, Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst in A Moon for the Misbegotten Martha Swope

Elliot Martin, whose Broadway credits as a producer, stage manager, and actor included nearly 50 productions, passed away May 21 in Connecticut surrounded by his family. He was 93.

Mr. Martin's career was highlighted by several productions of Eugene O'Neill works. His lengthy career spanned 70 years, beginning as a performer, moving into stage management, and then producing. In 1974 he received a Special Tony Award for “distinguished achievement in the Broadway theatre” for producing a revival of O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten, starring Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst with direction by José Quintero.

Born in Denver, Colorado in February 1924, Mr. Martin attended Denver University from 1943–1946 and subsequently moved to New York City. In 1947 he was cast in the original London production of Oklahoma!, where he met his future wife, Marjorie Cuesta Austin. She became the casting director for the majority of his productions, and they were married for 65 years until her death in 2014.

In the early ’50s, Mr. Martin began working as production manager for the Westport Country Playhouse. He began managing the Playhouse in the summers and stage managing on Broadway in the winter months; in fact, he stage-managed over 15 shows on Broadway, including The Girl on the Via Flaminia with Jennifer Jones, A Majority of One with Gertrude Berg and Sir Cedric Hardwicke, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown with Tammy Grimes.

While packaging star-driven productions for the straw-hat circuit, Mr. Martin came across a comedy that had been turned down by many producers: Sumner Arthur Long's Cradle and All. Martin arranged a tour starring Paul Ford and Maureen O'Sullivan with direction by George Abbott. The title was changed to Never Too Late, and the show opened on Broadway in 1962, running for more than 1,000 performances.

The years that followed established Martin as an independent lead producer with Nobody Loves an Albatross starring Robert Preston and the star-studded Dinner at Eight, directed by Tyrone Guthrie. In 1967 Mr. Martin was persuaded by Dorothy Chandler to come to Los Angeles as the first Director of the Center Theatre Group at the Los Angeles Music Center, managing the Ahmanson and Forum theatres. He stayed for three seasons, offering many original productions, including the American premiere of O'Neill’s More Stately Mansions.

Returning full time to New York, Mr. Martin produced several landmark productions, including the aforementioned revival of A Moon for the Misbegotten. During the ’70s he also produced O'Neill's A Touch of a Poet, again directed by Quintero starring Robards and Geraldine Fitzgerald. Martin went on to produce Moon two more times, in 2000 with Gabriel Byrne, Roy Dotrice, and Cherry Jones, and in 2007 with Kevin Spacey and Eve Best.

Over the years, Mr. Martin produced four plays with Rex Harrison. He also helped nurture many playwrights, presenting numerous original works on Broadway and off, including Dirty Linen & New-Found-Land by Tom Stoppard, The Wake of Jamey Foster by Beth Henley, Angels Fall by Lanford Wilson, Shadowlands by William Nicholson, When You Comin' Back Red Ryder by Mark Medoff, Joe Turner's Come and Gone by August Wilson, and more.

He also presented the original Broadway production of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Glengarry Glen Ross as well as several revivals: Of Mice and Men with James Earl Jones and Kevin Conway, Arsenic and Old Lace with Jean Stapleton and Tony Roberts, I'm Not Rappaport with Judd Hirsch and Ben Vereen, She Loves Me with Boyd Gaines and Judy Kuhn, and American Buffalo with Al Pacino.

Laurie Metcalf and David Suchet
Laurie Metcalf and David Suchet Johan Persson

Mr. Martin's last production was, fittingly, O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night in 2012 starring Laurie Metcalf and David Suchet. Produced in London, where Mr. Martin had started his career, it won the Olivier Award for Best Revival.

Mr. Martin was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2011. He was a lifetime member of the Players Club and the first president of the Players Foundation for Theatre Education. He was also a 55-year member of the Broadway League.

Mr. Martin is survived by his sister, Lois Dunbar; his son Richard Martin; his daughter Linda Martin Giannini; three grandsons, Martin, Alexander, and Charles Giannini; and a great granddaughter, Luisa Giannini.

A memorial service will be held at Marble Collegiate Church June 26 at 3 PM.