Remembering "Mr. Broadway," Gerald Schoenfeld

By Harry Haun
02 Jul 2012

Schoenfeld and Angela Lansbury
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Reviews were good, as they say in the trade. Pat can only carp about the critic who always knew her husband was Gerry. "His name was Jerry with a J, because, when we grew up, Gerry with a G was for Geraldine," she firmly remembers.

"I can't imagine him spelling his name with a G, or even letting it go out that way at the office. That's why, when I helped edit the book, we did Jerry with a J. Some people see it with a G, and some people don't. Every time I'd see it, I'd say 'Jerry, that is not your name.' He never bothered to correct anyone. He'd say, 'What do I care?'"

What Schoenfeld did care about was work. Pat ran the homefront. "One thing he always gave me credit for: When people entered our house, he'd say, 'It's all Pat.'

"We were Upper West-Siders for 30 years, but I was afraid he'd leave me with a rent increase every two years, so we bought this place. It's small but was perfect for us."

Somehow, this so-called "smallness" doesn't register for the first-time visitor — only the theatricality of it all. Could it be that vast chandelier that dangles and dazzles over the sunken living room? "I got that from Indiscretions," says Pat with no small measure of pride. "We were furnishing this apartment at the time the play happened to be on so I asked Jerry what happened to props after a play closes. He told me sometimes there are auctions, and you can bid on them. That's what I did."

Another prize acquisition from the 1995 Indiscretions, also designed by the Tony-nominated Stephen Brimson Lewis, is the massive, rococo bed where Jude Law and Kathleen Turner once romped like puppies. Back then, it was queen-size. Pat chose to bring it up to King-of-Broadway-size. "I had a craftsman carve all that intricate stuff and match it and make it bigger. The chandelier didn't have those crystals. It was all painted gray, but we scratched it and saw that wonderful bronze.

"Jerry would never have thought of doing something like that, although" — the idea seems to suddenly enter her head — "he did buy me some original Cats costumes once. They were being auctioned off for Broadway Cares, and he brought me home two of them: the Siamese and the very sleek cat with the stripes."

Other little theatrical bric-a-brac around the apartment include 15 Tony Awards, which line the shelves of the Schoenfeld study in no particular order — plus a lonely Olivier Award (for Heroes, a Tom Stoppard-Gerald Sibleyras play that arrived on these shore Off-Broadway). On the wall is a bronzed replica of a full-page New York Times ad: "In memory of Jerry Schoenfeld," it reads. "They ran that the day after he died, the only time they've done such a thing. It was the Friday after Thanksgiving."