Jean Dalrymple, the publicist, writer, producer and director whose greatest achievement was bringing dozens of plays and musicals to Manhattan's City Center during her tenure there from the 40's to the 60's, died on Nov. 15 in her Manhattan home. She was 96.
When City Center was established on W. 55th Street in 1943, Dalrymple was the volunteer director of public relations. However, she soon began to produce and direct productions. Among her early accomplishments were stagings of Our Town and Porgy and Bess. She convinced Charles Boyer to make his Broadway debut at City Center in the American premiere of Jean-Paul Sartre's Les Mains Sales.
She became director of City Center in 1953. Her first move was to book a quartet of plays starring Jose Ferrer -- Cyrano de Bergerac, The Shrike, Richard III and Charley's Aunt. The season was a success. Subsequent productions included a King Lear starring Orson Welles and A Streetcar Named Desire starring Tallulah Bankhead. There were also revivals of Pal Joey, Brigadoon, Guys and Dolls and The Pajama Game. Stars such as Walter Matthau, Bob Fosse, Helen Hayes, Jessica Tandy and Franchot Tone appeared on the City Center stage.
Certainly part of Dalrymple's success as a producer involved her skill as a publicist. She got her start as a flack when producer John Golden hired her in the early 30's. By 1940, she was a much sought after independent press agent.
Dalrymple also showed talent as a writer from an early age. With Dan Jarrett, she wrote the play Salt Water, which was produced in New York by Golden. She also penned the plays The Feathered Fauna (with Charles Robinson) and The Quiet Room. Additionally, she wrote several volumes of autobiography, including "From the Last Row" and "September Child." As reported by the NY Times Dalrymple was also one of the founding members of the American Theatre Wing, serving as its first publicity volunteer.
The NY Times obituary reports that Dalrymple was born Sept. 2, 1902, in Morristown, N.J. She was routinely described as a sweet, fragile feminine creature, but with an underlying determination to get things done. She was married to drama critic and reporter Ward Morehouse (father of the former NY Post theatre writer) for five years beginning in 1932. She later married Major Gen. Philip de Witt Ginder. Ginder died in 1968.
There will be a memorial service at City Center sometime next year, details to be announced.
-- By Robert Simonson