Vincent Canby, the critic and writer who covered film and theatre for The New York Times — briefly holding the powerful position of chief theatre critic — died Oct. 15 at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center of cancer, the paper reported.
Mr. Canby, who was 76, contributed his reviews and articles to The Times for 35 years and in the last decade was chief theatre critic and Sunday theatre columnist in the years following the 1993 departure of chief critic Frank Rich.
In his Times obituary, written by colleague Janet Maslin, it was observed that Mr. Canby, who was most known as a film critic, "opposed a tendency of the theatre to make itself more like film."
The paper reported he was also a playwright ("End of the War," "After All," "The Old Flag") and novelist ("Living Quarters," "Unnatural Scenery") and worked for the trade paper Variety before coming to The New York Times in 1965.
Mr. Canby was a Chicago native raised in Lake Forest, IL. He was a Dartmouth graduate and never married. In 1993, he became Sunday theatre critic of The New York Times, writing longer essay-reviews that appeared after the reviews of the chief drama critic had run. Producers look hopefully to the Sunday followup column for good marks from the writer and, possibly, hyperbolic praise to lift for advertising. The respected British critic Benedict Nightingale held the post for a year in the early 1980s. In 1994, Mr. Canby became chief theatre critic, and returned to the Sunday position in 1996.
— By Kenneth Jones