Jerome Weidman, a New York writer who penned over 20 novels but arguably enjoyed his greatest success in the theatre, died Oct. 6 at his home in Manhattan, according to the New York Times. He was 85.
Weidman authored only a handful of musical books, but among them were such notable works as Harold Rome's I Can Get It For You Wholesale and Fiorello!, which won Weidman and his co-authors George Abbott, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, the Pulitzer Prize in 1960.
Fiorello! was Weidman first success as a librettist. The musical, which told the story of New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, debuted at the Broadhurst Theatre on Nov. 23, 1959 and went on to play 796 performances. In addition to the Pulitzer, it also won the Tony Award for best musical, in a tie with The Sound of Music.
The show would begin Weidman's most prolific period of theatre writing. In the next few years, he wrote the books to Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's Tenderloin, Rome's I Can Get It For You Wholesale and Duke Ellington's Pousse-Cafe.
Wholesale was inspired by Weidman's 1937 debut novel of the same name, which established his reputation as a writer. The story concerned Harry Bogen, an ambitious garment district worker who will do anything to get to the top. In the 1962 musical, Elliot Gould played the lead and supporting player Barbra Streisand turned in a star-making performance as secretary Miss Marmelstein. Weidman also wrote several collections of short stories and a play, The Mother Lover.
--By Robert Simonson