IN MEMORIAM: Playbill.com Remembers Those We Lost in 2011

By Robert Simonson
December 29, 2011

Dramatists Arthur Laurents, Romulus Linney and Lanford Wilson, producer Ellen Stewart, actor Tom Aldredge and his costume-designer wife Theoni V. Aldredge were among theatre people who left us in 2011. At year's end, Playbill remembers them and others who enriched our lives through their commitment to the stage.



The writer of the greatest libretto in the history of the musical theatre. A founder of the Off-Off-Broadway theatre scene, and one of her favorite playwrights. The original Sally Bowles. A peerless Tom Stoppard interpreter. A Tony-nominated veteran character actor and his Tony-nominated veteran costume designer. The man who produced A Raisin in the Sun. The woman who married the man who produced A Raisin in the Sun. The man who adapted A Raisin in the Sun into a musical.

Respectively, Arthur Laurents, Ellen Stewart, Lanford Wilson, Jill Haworth, John Wood, Tom Aldredge and Theoni V. Aldredge, Philip Rose, Doris Belack and Edwin Judd Woldin were just a few of the many theatre people we lost in 2011. As 2012 breaks, Playbill.com looks back to reflect on the contributions of some of the theatre folk who died in the past calendar year.

Some names you know, some had no international profile. They all made an impact. Whether their contributions were felt locally, regionally, nationally or around the world, the writers, producers, advocates, actors, composers, musicians, lyricists, directors, technicians and designers of the following list contributed to the welfare of the art form.

Full stories are archived in Playbill.com's Obituaries section.

Doe Avedon, 86, the unknown who was molded into a model and actress by husband, photographer Richard Avedon, on Dec. 18 in Los Angeles.

Vaclav Havel, the political playwright who became the elected president of Czechoslovakia and, later, the Czech Republic, on Dec. 18 in at his country home in Hradecek, Czech Republic.

Graham Brown, 87, an actor long associated with the Negro Ensemble Company, on Dec. 13 in Englewood, NJ.

Edwin Judd Woldin

Susan Gordon, 62, a child actress who appeared in her father's sci-fi "B" movies, on Dec. 11 in Teaneck, NJ.

Harry Morgan, 96, who played the salty but kindly career army man Col. Sherman T. Potter in the long-running television show "M*A*S*H," and was a familiar Hollywood character actor, on Dec. 7 at his home in Los Angeles.

Leo Friedman, 92, a photographer who captured many of the iconic images of the golden age of Broadway, on Dec. 2 at his home in Las Vegas.

Alan Sues, 85 who found fame in the late '60s for his zany performances on the free-form television comedy "Laugh-In," on Dec. 1 in his home in Los Angeles.

Thomas Martell Brimm, 75, an actor with credits at the New York Shakespeare Festival and Negro Ensemble Company, on Nov. 30 in Los Angeles.

Edwin Judd Woldin, 86, a musical composer best known for Raisin, an adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's classic work A Raisin in the Sun, on Nov. 27.

Judy Lewis, 76, who had a number of stage and television parts during her career, but whose role of a lifetime was playing the secret child of two Hollywoods stars, Clark Gable and Loretta Young, on Nov. 25.

Rose Pickering, 64, grande dame of the Milwaukee theatre scene who, along with her husband James Pickering, acted in countless productions as a member of Milwaukee Rep's ensemble for nearly four decades, beginning in the early 1970s, on Nov. 24, in Milwaukee.

Irving Elman, 96, a Broadway playwright and a writer and producer for movies and television, on Nov. 22 in La Jolla, CA.

John Neville in Love's Labour's Lost at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, 1984.
photo by David Cooper

John Neville, 86, the respected British-born actor and director who was artistic director of Canada's Stratford Shakespeare Festival from 1985 to 1989, on Nov. 19 in Toronto.

Shelagh Delaney, 71, who had an international hit with A Taste of Honey, a play she wrote when she was still a teenager, on Nov. 20 at her daughter’s home in Suffolk, England.

Michael Hastings, 74, a British playwright who was cast as a member of the Angry Young Man set of the late 1950s, and wrote Tom and Viv, on Nov. 17.

Lee Pockriss, 87, the theatre and pop composer whose musicals include Broadway's Tovarich and Off-Broadway's Ernest in Love, on Nov. 14 at his home in Bridgewater, CT.

Leonard Stone, 87, a Tony Award nominee for his turn as George Poppett in Redhead in 1959, on Nov. 2 at his home in San Diego.

Gilbert Cates

Gilbert Cates, 77, the founder and producing director at the Geffen Playhouse, on Oct. 31 in Los Angeles.

Phyllis Love, 85, a stage and film actress who originated the role of Rosa Della Rose in The Rose Tattoo, on Oct. 30 in Los Angeles.

Liviu Ciulei, 88, an influential Romania-born director who was artistic director of Minnesota's Guthrie Theater for five years in the early 1980s, on Oct. 25 in a hospital in Munich.

Margaret Ruth Draper, 94, a stage and radio actress, on Oct. 14 in Payson, UT

Gary Holcombe, 66, a leading actor in the Kansas City theatre scene, on Oct. 10 in Kansas City.

Doris Belack, 65, a film and stage actress with decades of credits, and widow of producer Philip Rose, on Oct. 4 in Manhattan.

David I. Mitchell, 79, a seven-time Tony Award nominee and two-time Tony Award-winning scenic designer for Broadway, opera and ballet, on Oct. 3 in Los Angeles.

Cliff Robertson, 88, an Oscar-winning movie star whose career was temporarily derailed when he challenged a movie executive, on Sept. 10 in Long Island.

Mary Fickett, 83, an actress who received a Tony Award nomination for playing Eleanor Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello, on Sept. 8 at her home in Callao, VA.

Jerry Leiber

Jerry Leiber, 78, the rock and roll songwriter who, with Mike Stoller, penned hit after hit between the 1950s and the 1970s, collected in the Broadway show Smokey Joe's Cafe, on Aug. 22 in Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Price Berkley, 92, founder and longtime publisher of Theatrical Index, a theatre industry reference bible for decades, on Aug. 21 in New York.

Jeffrey Ash, 65, who followed his father in the Broadway advertising business and helped revolutionize it through a ground-breaking television spot for the musical Pippin, on Aug. 8 at his home in Manhattan.

John Wood, 81, a versatile British actor with a particular gift for playing curious souls and for the plays of Tom Stoppard, on Aug. 6 in England.

Edward Hastings, 80, one of the founders of the American Conservatory Theater, and its artistic director from 1986 to 1992, on Aug. 4 at his Santa Fe home.

Sam Norkin, 94, who captured seven decades of stage performances with fine-lined caricatures, on July 30 in New York.

Jane White, 88, a stage veteran who created the role of Queen Aggravain in Once Upon a Mattress, on July 24 in New York.

Tom Aldredge

Tom Aldredge, the lean and reliable veteran character actor who was nominated for a Tony Awards five times in his long and varied career, including for the original production of On Golden Pond, on July 22 in Tampa, FL.

Helen Beverley, 94, who performed in Yiddish theatre and Yiddish films, and was married to actor Lee J. Cobb, on July 15 at the Motion Picture and Television Fund hospital in Woodland Hills.

Googie Withers, 94, a sly, stylish British star who was best liked by her public when she was behaving wickedly, on July 15 in Sydney, Australia.

Donald Grody, 83 an actor who served as executive director of Actors' Equity Association from 1973 to 1980, on July 13 at his home in Manhattan.

Tony Stevens, 63, a dancer, choreographer and director who worked with Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett, and was an critical player in bringing the musical A Chorus Line into being, on July 12.

Donald Lyons, 73, a writer who served as drama critic at the New Criterion, Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, on July 12.

Roberts Blossom, 87, a character actor whose portrayals on both stage and screen won acclaim, if not actual fame, on July 8 in Santa Monica, CA.

Anna Massey, 73, the British actress who snagged a 1957 Tony Award nomination for her only Broadway appearance, in The Reluctant Debutante, on July 3.

Margaret Tyzack, a much-honored mainstay in the British theatre acting world for more than four decades, a Tony winner for Lettice and Lovage, on June 24 in London.

Alice Playten
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Alice Playten, 63, who lent her quirky persona and comic voice to a memorable string of Broadway and Off-Broadway musical performances from the 1960s onward, on June 25 at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City.

Peter Falk, 83, a stage, film and television actor whose quirky but intense characterizations included Columbo, the iconic detective he created in the television series of the same name, on June 23 at his Beverly Hills home.

Tommy Brent, 88, a producer on the New England straw hat circuit who put in more than two decades as producer at Rhode Island's historic Theatre-by-the-Sea, on June 4 at his home in Manutuck, RI.

Clarice Taylor, 93, a stage actress who won late fame playing Bill Cosby's mother in "The Cosby Show," on May 30 in Englewood, NJ.

Philip Rose, 89, a Broadway producer who advanced the cause of African-American stage artists by producing the original Raisin in the Sun, on May 31 in Englewood, NJ.

Jeff Conaway

Giorgio Tozzi, 88, an operatic bass who occasionally made forays into the theatre, including a Tony Award-nominated turn in The Most Happy Fella, on May 30, in Bloomington, IN.

Jeff Conaway, 60, who played Kenickie in the hit movie version of the musical "Grease" and was one of the stars of the classic sitcom "Taxi," on May 27 at a Los Angeles-area hospital.

Michael Brenner, 59, the German producer and impresario who founded and was managing partner of the Mannheim-based BB Promotion GmbH, on May 21, after being hit by a motorbike while on a bicycle tour.

Douglas B. Leeds, 63, an advertising executive who was a producer and vice-chairman of the American Theater Wing, on May 9 in New York City.

Joseph Brooks, 73, the Hollywood composer of "You Light Up My Life" and the Broadway musical In My Life, on May 22 in his Upper East Side apartment, a suicide. He had been awaiting trial on multiple charges of rape.

Randall L. Wreghitt, 55, a theatrical producer known for bringing innovative dramatic work to Broadway and Off-Broadway stages, among them several of the works of Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, on May 18 in a hospital in Hoboken, NJ.

Pam Gems, 85, who found stage plays in the lives of persons as diverse as French chanteuse Edith Piaf and English painter Stanley Spencer, on May 13 at her home in England.

Gerald Bordman, 79, a theatre scholar who wrote the standard reference volume "The American Musical Theatre," on May 9, at Saunders House in Wynnewood, PA.

Doric Wilson, 72, an early figure in New York's Off-Off-Broadway scene and champion of gay theatre and gay rights in general, on May 7 in Manhattan.

Arthur Laurents

Arthur Laurents, 93, the irascible, enduring Man of the Theatre who wrote plays and screenplays and enjoyed a significant career as a director, but who made his lasting mark as the librettist to two landmark musicals, West Side Story and Gypsy, on May 5 at his Manhattan home.

Sidney Michaels, an American playwright who scored a string of notable Broadway productions in the 1960s, including Tchin-Tchin and Dylan, on April 22 in Westport, CT.

Russell Warner, in his 70s, an orchestrator, composer, music director and dance arranger, on April 26 in Seattle.

Marian Mercer, 75, who won a Tony Award for her performance in the hit 1960s musical Promises, Promises, on April 27 in Newbury Park, CA.

John Cossette, 54, a Broadway and television producer, on April 26.

Farley Granger, 85, an edgy youthful lead in films following World War II, particularly the notable Hitchcock thrillers "Strangers on a Train" and "Rope," on March 27 in New York.

John Scoullar, 61, a composer, lyricist, playwright and performer, on March 25, in New York.

Lanford Wilson

Lanford Wilson, 73, playwright who emerged out of the scrappy Off-Off-Broadway scene to compose humane, lyrical dramas of American life that played on Broadway and in theatres around the world, on March 24 in Sag Harbor, Long Island.

Helen Stenborg, 86, veteran stage and film actress, long-time spouse of the late actor Barnard Hughes, and mother of director Doug Hughes, on March 22 at her Manhattan apartment.

Elizabeth Taylor, 79, the movie star who for a half-century was as famous for her personal attractiveness and sensational personal life as she was for her many films (and two turns on Broadway, in The Little Foxes and Private Lives), on March 23 at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Michael Gough, 94, the British character actor who won a Tony Award for playing Ernest in Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce, on March 17 at his home in England.

Beverley Randolph, 58, veteran production stage manager, on March 15 at her home in Bloomingdale, NJ.

Hugh Martin, 96, the songwriter who enlivened the Judy Garland movie musical "Meet Me in St. Louis" with the evergreen songs "The Trolley Song," "The Boy Next Door" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," on March 11 in California.

Jane Russell, 89, a starlet of Hollywood westerns and musicals in the 1940s and 1950s, as famous for her physique as she was for any of her films, on Feb. 28 at her home in Santa Maria, CA.

Jay Landesman, a semi-notorious, frenetically ambitious fringe figure of New York and London's Bohemian scenes whose unpublished novel "The Nervous Set" inspired the short-lived 1959 musical of the same name, on Feb. 20 at his home in London.

Haila Stoddard, 97, who transitioned from actress to producer during a lengthy theatre career, at her home in Weston, CT.

Beatrice Louise Dickman Swarm, 92, educational consultant and backstage chaperone with Miss Saigon, on Feb. 13, in Waynesboro, PA.

Betty Garrett

Betty Garrett, 91, a comedic stage and screen musical comedy actress whose brief film career, curtailed by the McCarthy-era blacklist, included "On the Town," on Feb. 12, in Los Angeles at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Evelyn Page, 90, an actress with several Broadway credits, on Feb. 6 in Manhattan.

Mary Cleere Haran, 58, a mainstay on the cabaret scene in the 1990s and 2000s, known for her insouciant, witty, elegant way with American songbook, on Feb. 5, after a biking accident, in Deerfield Park, FL.

Jay Garner, 82, veteran character actor who created the role of the frisky side-steppin' governor in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and the bigoted politician Dindon in the original La Cage aux Folles, on Jan. 21 in New York.

Theoni V. Aldredge, 88, a three-time Tony Award-winning costume designer, on Jan. 21 in a Stamford, CT, hospital.

Lou Stancari, 63, a Washington, DC, scenic designer, on Jan. 15, on the tracks of the Farragut North DC Metro station, the victim of an accident.

Susannah York, 72, the English stage and film actress who was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of a desperate dance marathon contestant in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?," on Jan. 15, in a London hospital.

Michael Langham, 91, a director whose long and influential career saw him helm productions on Broadway, run the Stratford Shakespeare Festival for a decade, and man the Guthrie Theatre during the 1970s, on Jan. 15 at his home near Cranbrook, Kent, in England.

Romulus Linney

Romulus Linney, 80, a respected playwright who wrote dozens of plays on a wide variety of subjects over a multi-decade career, and father of actress Laura Linney, on Jan. 15, at his home in Germantown, NY.

Ellen Stewart, 91, the powerhouse impresario who, as the founder of the downtown Manhattan theatre complex La MaMa, E.T.C., was one of the central figures in the creation of the Off-Off-Broadway movement, on Jan. 13 in New York City.

Al Kozlik, 76, a Canadian stage actor known for his work at The Shaw Festival, on Jan. 11, at the Greater Niagara General Hospital.

Margaret Whiting, 86, an interpreter of popular song began in the Big Band Era whose career was revived in the 1990s with the Broadway show Dream, on Jan. 10, at the Actors' Fund Home in Englewood, NJ.

Peter Donaldson, 57, longtime actor at Canada's Stratford Shakespeare Festival, on Jan. 8 in Toronto.

Jill Haworth, 65, who created the role of chanteuse Sally Bowles in the landmark musical Cabaret, on Jan. 3. 

Marsha Hanna, 59, the artistic director of The Human Race Theatre Company of Dayton, OH, on Jan. 3, in Dayton, OH.

Margot Stevenson, 98, a stage actress who appeared in George S. Kaufman plays in the 1930s, on Jan. 2, at her home in Manhattan.

Pete Postlethwaite, 64, an English character actor who brought an unmistakeable voice and face to his many performances on stage and screen, on Jan. 2 in Royal Shrewsbury in Shrewsbury, England.