Anna Crouse, Playwright's Wife Who Was Instrumental in Creation of TKTS Booth, Dies at 97

By Robert Simonson
31 Dec 2013

Anna Crouse
Anna Crouse

Anna Crouse, the widow of playwright Russel Crouse and mother of actress Lindsay Crouse, who had a hand in the revitalization of Lincoln Center Theater and the creation of the TKTS booth, died Dec. 29. She was 97.

Anna Erskine was born in New York City on Jan. 29, 1916, the daughter of Pauline Ives Erskine and John Erskine. She attended Horace Mann High School and Barnard College. Embarking on a career in the theatre, she worked as production assistant for producer Dwight Deere Wiman, director Joshua Logan, and dramatists Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse in the 1930s and early '40s.

She wrote radio scripts for the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air from 1939 to 1944, and contributed articles to Argosy, Glamour, Redbook and Good Housekeeping.

On June 28, 1945, she married Russel Crouse, the playwright who, with his longtime partner Lindsay, penned such long-lived Broadway hits as State of the Union and Life With Father, and who was 23 years her senior. They had two children, the actress Lindsay Crouse, who was married for a time to playwright David Mamet, and the writer Timothy Crouse, who survive them. Also surviving are grandchildren Willa Ives Mamet and Zosia Mamet.



With her husband, she wrote two children’s books for the Landmark Series (Random House), “Peter Stuvesant of Old New York," 1954, and “Hamilton and Burr," 1958. Anna Crouse was made a board member of Lincoln Center Theater in 1985, at the time when former New York City mayor John Lindsay had been charged with reviving the long moribund Vivian Beaumont Theater. She also served as chairman of the artistic committee from 1985 to 1990, and again from 1994 to 2000, as well as serving on the executive committee from 1985 to 1990. During the first period, artistic director Gregory Mosher and managing producer Bernard Gersten were brought in to take charge of the theatre program. A string of critical and popular hits quickly followed.

"Anna Crouse was as responsible as anyone for the idea that theatre could exist at Lincoln Center," said LCT artistic director Andre Bishop in a statement. "Her passionate belief and tireless work for what would become the Lincoln Center Theater company made her beloved by all. She was a behind-the-scenes player, but a major influence on theater all over the City. Anna had a long and fascinating life. They just don't make people like her anymore."

At Theatre Development Fund, she was a major force behind starting the half-price ticket booth TKTS, which stands in Times Square, in 1973.

"Anna Crouse was an extraordinary individual whose impact on the theatre and its artists was huge. Among her many contributions to the field was the indelible role she played at TDF, serving as a Trustee from 1968 until 1993, including serving as Chair for five years (1975-77 and 1981-84). Mrs. Crouse was instrumental in the founding of the TKTS booth; it is fair to say that without her it would not have happened; her influence and support extended beyond TKTS to the entire fabric of the organization," TDF executive director Victoria Bailey said in a statement. 

Among her many other posts in the arts and education worlds were: honorary trustee of The Juilliard School for many years; board member of ARTS/Boston; the Commission for Cultural Affairs; and the Cultural Council Foundation.

Russel Crouse died in 1966. In 1978, Ms. Crouse married George A. Murch.