Paul Libin, chairman of The Broadway League and executive vice president/producing director of Jujamcyn Theaters, said in a statement, "Joe Stein was one of the great luminaries of the Broadway theatre. A lifelong New Yorker who grew up in the Bronx, he combined humor and life experience to write memorable books for over 25 of the greatest musicals ever presented on Broadway."
Stein graduated with a masters degree in social work from Columbia University in 1937, and spent many years as a psychiatric social worker, writing comedy on the side, before making his Broadway debut in 1948.
Stein received the 1965 Tony Award for writing the book to Fiddler on the Roof, which also won the 1965 Tony Award for Best Musical. He was nominated for Take Me Along (1960), Zorba (1969) and Rags (1987). He was reportedly working on a rewrite of Rags at the time of his death.
He also wrote the books to the shows Mr. Wonderful, Take Me Along, Juno, Irene and Plain and Fancy, and penned the comedy Enter Laughing, the musical version of which was recently revived Off-Broadway to great acclaim.