In Memoriam: Playbill.com Remembers Those We Lost in 2007

By Zachary Pincus-Roth
29 Dec 2007

Vincent Sardi, Jr.
Vincent Sardi, Jr.

From the original choreographer of Guys and Dolls to the original Bud Frump in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, the theatre world lost many of its most esteemed colleagues in 2007.

This year's list included two singers who were pillars of the New York performing arts community — Kitty Carlisle Hart and Beverly Sills — plus a restaurateur, Vincent Sardi Jr., whose name was synonymous with Broadway culture. The names range from the very famous — such as Robert Goulet, Merv Griffin, Deborah Kerr and Ingmar Bergman — to behind-the-scenes artists such as lighting designer Chris Parry and the fencing instructor to the stars, Rod Colbin.

Playbill.com has compiled a list of people in the theatre community who have passed on in 2007. It is by no means a complete list of the countless members of the community who were lost this year and who touched us all.

Vincent Sardi Jr., 91, the owner of the most famous Broadway restaurant in history, Jan. 4 of complications of a urinary-tract infection in Berlin, VT.

Ben Gannon, 54, the Australian producer who was instrumental in bringing the musical The Boy From Oz to Broadway, Jan. 4 of cancer, in Sydney.



Charmion King, 81, the actress who began her stage career in the 1940s and was often referred to as "The Grand Dame of the Canadian Theatre," Jan. 6.

Yvonne De Carlo, 84, the sultry actress who starred in "The Ten Commandments" and "The Munsters" and played Carlotta in the original production of Follies, Jan. 8 of natural causes in suburban Los Angeles.

Irma St. Paule, 80, an indomitable stage veteran who starred in plays such as The Rose Tattoo on Broadway and worked until her final months, Jan. 9.

Larkin Ford, 86, the last member of the original 1954 cast of Reginald Rose's teleplay "Twelve Angry Men," Jan. 13.

Ron Carey, 71, the comic character actor best known as Officer Levitt on the television series "Barney Miller" who also appeared onstage, Jan. 16 of complications from a stroke, in Los Angeles.

Chris Parry, 54, the lighting designer of Broadway shows such as Brooklyn Boy and Les Liaisons Dangereuses who won a Tony Award for The Who's Tommy, Jan. 19.

Curt Dempster, 71, the founding artistic director of Ensemble Studio Theatre who was one of the seminal figures of New York's Off-Off-Broadway movement, Jan. 19 of suicide in New York City.

Hannah Loesser, 44, a visual artist who was the daughter of the late Broadway composer Frank Loesser and his wife, singer Jo Sullivan Loesser, Jan. 25 in New York City.

Tige Andrews, 86, a classically trained stage actor who starred on Broadway in Mister Roberts and found fame on the 1960s cop show "The Mod Squad," Jan. 27 of cardiac arrest at his home in Encino, CA.

Michael Shurtleff, 86, who had a long career on Broadway as a casting director and wrote "Audition: Everything an Actor Needs to Know to Get the Part," a cherished bible for aspiring actors, Jan. 28 at his home in Los Angeles.

Griffith Jones, 96, the British actor whose long-lived career included two Noel Coward premieres and a quarter century at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Jan. 30.

Sidney Sheldon, 89, the writer who created the television series "I Dream of Jeannie" and worked as a Broadway playwright and librettist in the 1940s and '50s, Jan. 30 of complications from pneumonia at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, CA.

Lee Bergere, 88, a prolific character actor on stage and television who appeared in many productions of Man of La Mancha as Quixote and in other roles, Jan. 31 at the Colonial Poplin Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility in Fremont, NH.

Victor Griffin, 88, the actor who appeared in the last Ziegfeld Follies and then three decades later acted in Stephen Sondheim's Follies, Feb. 3 in Syosset, NY.

J.C. Sheets, 53, who played 12 ensemble roles in Les Misérables on Broadway and played Jean Valjean more than 300 times as an alternate and understudy before becoming a dresser responsible for the Phantom's costumes in The Phantom of the Opera, Feb. 4 of an aneurysm.

Rod Colbin, 83, a fencing instructor for actors from James Dean to Marlon Brando to Jimmy Durante who also acted on Broadway, Feb. 4 after a series of strokes, in Denver, CO.

Barbara McNair
Barbara McNair, 73, a nightclub singer who starred in a handful of Broadway musicals including the 1973 revival of The Pajama Game in which she played the lead of Babe Williams, Feb. 4 of cancer at her home in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Richard Curnock, 84, an actor who worked on 22 seasons and 61 productions at Canada's Stratford Festival, Feb. 6 at Stratford General Hospital.

Robert T. Hazzard, 74, the retired director-professor who was once theatre chair at Wayne State University in Detroit, Feb. 9 after a battle with cancer, in North Carolina.

Ian Richardson, 73, the British stage actor known for the BBC's 1990 drama series "House of Cards" who played Jean-Paul Marat in Marat/Sade on Broadway and Henry Higgins in the 1976 Broadway revival of My Fair Lady, Feb. 9 at his London home.

Ellen Hanley, 80, the musical theatre actress best known for playing the wife of Fiorello H. LaGuardia in Fiorello!, Feb. 13 of a stroke in Norwalk, CT.

Steven Pimlott, 52, the British stage director whose busy career included a stay at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the helming of the British premiere of Sunday in the Park With George at the National Theatre and Bombay Dreams on Broadway, Feb. 14 of lung cancer despite being a non-smoker, at his home near Colchester, UK.

Daniel McDonald, 46, the dashing young star of the Broadway musicals Steel Pier and High Society, Feb. 15 of brain cancer.

Ray Evans, 92, the Broadway and Hollywood lyricist whose many memorable tunes include "Mona Lisa," "Silver Bells" and "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," Feb. 15 of an apparent heart attack at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Sheridan Morley, 65, the larger-than-life London theatre critic and author and a long-time Playbill writer, Feb. 16 in his sleep at his home in London.

Janet Blair, 85, who began her life as singer and then turned to acting in films such as "My Sister Eileen" and major tours of shows such as South Pacific and Mame, Feb. 19 from complications of pneumonia at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica.

Fred Kareman, 77, a Broadway performer and New York acting teacher who schooled such performers as Mary Steenburgen and Marisa Tomei, Feb. 25 of a heart attack.

Jay Harnick, 78, who founded TheatreWorks USA, the nation's largest touring children's theatre company, Feb. 27 after a long illness, in Manhattan.

Darlene Wilson
Darlene Wilson, 45, an associate choreographer and dance captain on many Broadway musicals, most recently for Spamalot, in which she was also a standby for the role of The Lady of the Lake, March 2.

Ruth Rosenberg, 46, a creative director at the Broadway advertising firm Serino Coyne, March 2, when her car careened off the road in Sullivan County in New York.

Robert Prince, 78, who wrote arrangements and music for a number of Broadway productions, March 4 after a brief illness, in Los Angeles.

Murray Grand, 87, a composer and pianist who was a fixture of New York's cabaret scene for decades, March 7 in Santa Monica.

Lanna Saunders, 65, the stage actress who appeared in the original Broadway productions of Milk and Honey and Philadelphia, Here I Come!, March 10 of complications from multiple sclerosis in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Betty Hutton, 86, the high-energy comedic actress who starred on Broadway in shows such as Annie and Fade Out — Fade In, March 11 at her home in Palm Springs, CA.

Vilma Ebsen, 96, who, with her brother Buddy, danced through three Broadway shows and one Hollywood musical, March 12 at the Thousand Oaks Health Care Center in California.

Timothy Gray, 79, the lyricist who collaborated with Hugh Martin on the Broadway show High Spirits, March 17 in Sarasota, FL.

Calvin Lockhart, 72, an actor who found a home in film and on stages in New York and England, March 29 of complications from a stroke, in The Bahamas.

Salem Ludwig, 91, a journeyman stage actor whose credits include the original productions of Inherit the Wind, Camino Real and The Trip to Bountiful, April 1.

Stan Daniels, 72, the co-creator of "Taxi" and a writer-producer of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" who also wrote the songs for the musical So Long, 174th Street, April 6 of heart failure at his longtime home in Encino, CA.

Edgar B. Young, 98, who helped facilitate construction of the many buildings that make up the Lincoln Center complex, including the Vivian Beaumont Theater, April 6 at his home in Medford, NJ.

George Jenkins, 98, the set and lighting designer who worked on dozens of Broadway shows, including The Miracle Worker, April 6 at his home in Santa Monica, CA.

Barry Nelson, 86, the likable, average-Joe star of some of the biggest Broadway comedies of the '50s and '60s including The Moon Is Blue and Mary, Mary, April 7 in Bucks County, PA.

Margaret Frueauff Fanning, 94, who acted under the name Margaret Perry on stage and film and who was the daughter of Antoinette Perry, for whom the Tonys are named, April 8 at her home in Colorado.

Roscoe Lee Browne, 81, an actor and playwright who was best known for playing Holloway in Broadway's Two Trains Running, April 11 of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Kitty Carlisle Hart, 96, the longtime stage and film actress who served as chairperson of the New York State Council of the Arts for 20 years and was a staple of the performing arts community, April 17 of pneumonia at her home in Manhattan.

Alan Martin, 62, a star of Los Angeles productions of rock musicals such as Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar, April 22 in Crestline, CA.

Anne Pitoniak
Anne Pitoniak, 85, the self-effacing actress who received a Tony Award nomination for originating the title role in Marsha Norman's 'night, Mother, April 22 at her home in Manhattan.

Michael Smuin, 68, the founder and artistic director of the Smuin Ballet who won a Tony Award for choreographing the hit 1987 Broadway revival of Anything Goes, April 23 of an apparent heart attack in San Francisco.

Henry LeTang, 91, the choreographer of hit Broadway revues such as Black and Blue and a mentor to several generations of tap dancers, April 26 in Las Vegas.

Tom Poston, 85, the actor who appeared in many Broadway shows and gained fame playing a series of slow-witted but appealing everyman characters on television, April 30 at his home in Los Angeles.

Shirl Conway, 90, the actress who appeared on Broadway in Plain and Fancy and was known for TV's "The Nurses," May 7 in Shelton, WA.

Montgomery Davis, 67, the founder of the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and an actor at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and other local stages, May 20 in his sleep after suffering symptoms of a stroke, at Clearview Home in Delafield, WI.

Charles Nelson Reilly, 76, the actor and director who won a Tony for playing Bud Frump in the original production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and the TV star of "Match Game" and "Hollywood Squares," May 25 from complications of pneumonia in Beverly Hills, CA.

Gretchen Wyler
Gretchen Wyler, 75, the actress and animal rights activist who appeared on Broadway in Guys and Dolls, Damn Yankees and Bye Bye Birdie, May 27 of complications from breast cancer at her home in Camarillo, CA.

Gilbert Mead, 76, the paper manufacturing heir who became a major donor to Washington, D.C. area theatres, May 29 after suffering a stroke, at the Washington Home hospice.

Leonard Leone, 92, the founder of Wayne State University's graduate Hilberry Theatre Company, a rare rotating repertory company in the university theatre scene, June 5 in his sleep at his Berkley, MI home.

Anthony De Santis, 93, the owner of the Drury Lane theatre empire and a leading force in Chicago theatre over the past 50 years, June 6 of natural causes at his apartment that he kept backstage at his Drury Lane Theatre complex in Oakbrook Terrace, IL.

Mark Wright, 77, the Broadway stage manager long associated with both playwright Edward Albee and Albee's frequent director Alan Schneider, June 6 of an incurable form of anemia in Los Angeles.

Lee Nagrin, 78, the visual artist, performer, singer, choreographer, director and playwright who created highly individual works Off- and Off-Off Broadway for 40 years, June 7 of complications from advanced colon cancer in hospice care at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City.

Amy Sullivan, 54, the executive director of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center from September 2003 through January 2007, June 10 after a long battle with cancer at her home in Old Lyme, CT.

Thommie Walsh, 57, the Tony-winning choreographer who was also a part of the original Broadway cast of A Chorus Line, June 16 of lymphoma.

Beverly Anderson Traube, 77, the independent Broadway talent agent who recently celebrated 50 years in the business and whose clients included Alan Alda, Bernadette Peters, Elliot Gould and Morgan Fairchild, June 16 at her home in New York.

Pattie Darcy Jones, 54, the actress who appeared on Broadway in Smokey Joe's Café and Leader of the Pack and was a backup singer for artists such as Cher and Bette Midler, June 16 at her home in Hopatcong, NJ.

William Hutt, 87, an actor who was a founding member at the Stratford Festival of Canada who spent 39 seasons there, acting in 130 productions, June 27 in his sleep.

Laura Wiley, 41, the co-founder and co-director of Chicago's acclaimed Albany Park Theater Project, June 28 of ovarian cancer.

Leo Burmester, 63, the rangy, gruff actor who performed on Broadway in Buried Child and as the original Thenardier in Les Misérables, June 28 of leukemia.

Joel Siegel, 63, the film and theatre critic with the thick brush moustache who reviewed for "Good Morning, America" and WABC, June 29 of colon cancer in New York.

Beverly Sills, 78, one of the most honored coloratura sopranos of her time who later served as chief executive of New York City Opera, chairman of Lincoln Center and president of the Metropolitan Opera, July 2 of lung cancer at her home in Manhattan.

Edwin Mirvish
Edwin Mirvish, 92, the Canadian producer and theatre owner known as "Honest Ed" who saved the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto from the wrecking ball, bought and restored London's Old Vic and helped build the Princess of Wales, July 11 at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

Jerry Hadley, 55, the acclaimed operatic tenor of the 1980s and '90s, July 18 of complications from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, NY.

David Shaw, 90, the writer who wrote extensively for film, television and theatre and who co-wrote the book for the Tony-winning musical Redhead, July 27 in Beverly Hills, CA.

Sekou Sundiata, 58, the performance artist and musician whose performance pieces were presented at P.S. 122, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, July 28 in Valhalla, NY.

Charlotte Harmon, 96, the summer-stock producer who was editor of the performing arts weekly Back Stage from 1961 to 1976, July 29 at her Manhattan home.

Ingmar Bergman, 89, the Swedish director whose theatrical and cinematic excursions into philosophy, psychology and human relations made him one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, July 30 on the island of Faro in Sweden.

Elaine Campbell, 81, the Canadian lyricist who co-created a series of popular musicals including a stage version of the children's classic "Anne of Green Gables," Aug. 11 in Charlottetown's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Merv Griffin, 82, the talk-show host and producer who welcomed Broadway stars onto his show and who starred in the 1955 revival of Finian's Rainbow at City Center, Aug. 12 of prostate cancer in Los Angeles.

Joe Van Slyke, 55, the actor who made Chicago his artistic home for the last three decades, Aug. 13 of lung cancer at his home in Chicago.

Diane Van Lente, 57, the executive producer of the Drury Lane Theatres in Chicago, Aug. 13 of ovarian cancer.

John Wallowitch, 82, the songwriter who was a fixture of New York's cabaret culture, Aug. 15 of cancer in New York City.

Robert Symonds, 80, the actor who served as associate director of the Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center for eight years, Aug. 23 of complications of prostate cancer in Los Angeles.

Miyoshi Umeki, 78, the actress nominated for a Tony Award for the original Flower Drum Song and became the first Asian to win a performance Academy Award when she won for supporting actress for the film "Sayonara" in 1958, Aug. 28 in Licking, MO.

Steve Ryan, 55, the stage and television character actor known for playing authority figures in works such as the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls, Sept. 3 after a long illness in Duarte, CA.

Michael Evans, 87, the actor who starred on Broadway in the play Gigi, Sept. 4 in Los Angeles.

Brett Somers, 83, the salty television and stage actress who is best remembered as a panelist on the game show "The Match Game" in the 1970s and in the TV series "The Odd Couple," Sept. 15.

Alice Ghostley, age variously given as 81 and 83, the stage and television actress who starred on "Designing Women" and "Bewitched" and won a Tony for The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, Sept. 21 at her home in Studio City, CA.

Floria Lasky, 84, the theatrical lawyer who represented such talents as Elia Kazan, Tennessee Williams and Jerome Robbins, Sept. 21 of cancer in Manhattan.

Marcel Marceau, 84, the Frenchman whose name was synonymous with the art of mime, Sept. 22 in Cahors, France.

Brennen Leath, 25, the actor who starred in this year's Off-Broadway musical Walmartopia, Sept. 22 of complications from diabetes.

Dean Gardner, 55, a respected box-office treasurer who worked in a variety of Broadway theatres, Sept. 24 after a long battle with colon cancer.

Jay Harris, 69, the Broadway producer of shows such as Side Man and the entertainment lawyer whose clients included Rent composer Jonathan Larson, Sept. 24 after a brief battle with cancer.

Ned Sherrin, 76, the British performer, director and writer who directed and starred in Side by Side by Sondheim and devised the 1960s satiric TV series "That Was The Week That Was," Oct. 1 of throat cancer in London.

George Grizzard
George Grizzard, 79, the actor particularly known for his work in the plays of Edward Albee and who starred as Nick in the original Broadway production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Oct. 2 of complications of lung cancer in Manhattan.

Tom Murphy, 39, the Dublin-born actor who won a Tony Award for The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Oct. 6 of lymphatic cancer in Dublin.

Carol Bruce, 87, the actress who starred in several Broadway musicals and the sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati," Oct. 9 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Woodlands Hill, CA.

Lonny Chapman, 87, the Broadway actor who headed a Los Angeles theatre that bore his name for 34 years, Oct. 12 of heart disease in North Hollywood, CA.

Robert Lantz, 93, the talent agent whose clients included Leonard Bernstein, Lillian Hellman, Al Hirschfeld, Alfred Drake and Mike Nichols, Oct. 18 of heart failure in Manhattan.

Deborah Kerr, 86, the actress who starred in the film "The King and I" and the original productions of the Broadway plays Tea and Sympathy and Seascape, Oct. 18 of complications from Parkinson's Disease in Suffolk, England.

Allan Stevenson, 89, the actor whose Broadway credits include Do Re Mi, Oct. 24 of a hit-and-run car accident in Manhattan.

Timothy J. Ray, 47, the Broadway theatre publicist, Oct. 25 of kidney failure at the Philip Hulitar Hospice Center in Providence, RI.

Moira Lister, 84, the British actress who appeared in the original production of Noel Coward's comedy Present Laughter, Oct. 27.

Robert Goulet
Robert Goulet, 73, the suave singer and actor who originated the role of Sir Lancelot in the Broadway musical Camelot, Oct. 30 of pulmonary fibrosis while awaiting a lung transplant, in Los Angeles.

Karen Fraction, 49, the performer who danced in the Broadway shows The Tap Dance Kid and the 1991 revival of Oh, Kay!, Oct. 30 of breast cancer.

George W. George, 78, the producer of a string of Broadway productions in the 1960s and '70s including Dylan and Bedroom Farce, Nov. 7.

Timothy M. Fauvell, 50, the Broadway performer who appeared in the 1990s productions of 1776 and State Fair, Nov. 7 of cardiac arrest.

Ira Levin, 78, the playwright and novelist who penned Deathtrap, one of the biggest hits in Broadway history, Nov. 12 of a fatal heart attack in his Manhattan apartment.

Roy A. Hine, 51, the Chicago-area director and designer and artistic director of Wagon Wheel Theatre in Warsaw, IN, Nov. 21 from a heart attack.

Danny Newman, 88, the longtime press agent of Lyric Opera of Chicago who pioneered the idea of subscriptions at non-profit theatres, Dec. 1 of pulmonary fibrosis at his home in Lincolnwood, IL.

Ruth Wallis, 87, the songwriter-musician-singer whose songs inspired a recent musical revue Boobs! The Musical, Dec. 22.

Michael Kidd, 92, the stage and film choreographer and director who won five Tony Awards and an Honorary Academy Award and whose choreography credits include Guys and Dolls on stage and screen, Dec. 23 of cancer at his home in Los Angeles.

Pat Kirkwood, 86, the British stage and screen actress who played lead roles in the West End productions of various prominent shows, Dec. 25 at Kitwood House nursing home in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, UK.