Ben Bagley, the producer of revues and records, died recently in his sleep at age 64. In the 1950's, when the revue genre was beginning to fade on Broadway, Bagley, at age 21, dazzled critics with two Off-Broadway Shoestring Revues that featured such future luminaries as Bea Arthur, Chita Rivera, Dody Goodman, Arte Johnson, Dorothy Greener and future director Paul Mazursky.
The hilarious, sassy sketches and songs were written by such future titans as Sheldon Harnick, Michael Stewart, Charles Strouse, Lee Adams, Tom Jones, Harvey Schmidt and Arthur Siegel. Bagley's biggest Off-Broadway hit was The Decline and Fall of the Entire World As Seen Through the Eyes of Cole Porter, Revisited in which Kaye Ballard, Harold Lang, William Hickey and Elmarie Wendel gave new life to Porter's songs.
In 1971 Bagley founded Painted Smiles Records and produced 47 highly distinctive show-tune albums with outrageous liner notes. Katharine Hepburn sang on several of them, and Bagley reported that her last film was Lust Slaves of Lima. She loved it.
Bagley requested no services. His ashes will be cast over the sea.
-- By Louis Botto