Arts Critic Robert Hilferty Dies

By Robert Simonson
04 Aug 2009

Robert Hilferty, who wrote about music, theatre and the arts for a variety of publications, died suddenly July 24.



Mr. Hilferty was an early contributor to the weekly magazine Time Out New York. Among the other publications whose pages he wrote for were the New York Times, New York magazine, Stagebill, The Advocate, Gramophone and Opera News.

More recently, Robert served as an on-screen interviewer for Muse, Bloomberg TV's now-defunct arts program, and maintained a blog called The Hilferty Harangue. He was known by colleagues for his enthusiasm, wealth of opinions and infectious smile.

Also a activist for gay rights, he directed the 1991 film "Stop the Church," about ACT UP's protest action inside St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1989. Noteworthy figures such as Larry Kramer, Anne Northrop, Michael Petrellis and David Robinson are seen in the film.

The film became a source of controversy when the head of PBS programming pulled it at the last moment from a national airing on the series P.O.V. PBS called the film "inappropriate for distribution because of its pervasive tone of ridicule overwhelming its critique of policy." Mr. Hilferty responded that PBS's decision was a "cowardly and unprincipled" form of censorship.

Various local PBS stations aired it in protest. A month later, Channel 13 reversed its decision and aired the documentary.