Frank Gero, Broadway Producer, Dies at 84

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22 Jan 2014

Frank Gero, an actor and stage manager who reinvented himself mid-career as a producer, died Jan. 18 at age 84.



Mr. Gero produced more than 35 plays on stages on Broadway and Off-Broadway and in London’s West End. His final Broadway credit was the hit play A Steady Rain, which starred Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman.

He began his Broadway producing career somewhat inauspiciously with a 1979 staging of Eric Bentley's McCarthy-era docudrama Are You or Have You Ever Been?, a play he had previously produced with success Off-Broadway. (He also acted in the Off-Broadway version, playing Abe Burrows and Jerome Robbins.) It lasted a month, but his next effort, the gentle comedy On Golden Pond, was a more sizable success. 

Other Broadway credits included Our Country's Good and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The former was nominated for a Best Play Tony Award. But his greatest achievement as a producer arguably came in 1992 when he backed the David Mamet two-hander Oleanna at the Orpheum Theater in the East Village. The ambiguous, controversial drama, about the contentious relationship between a professor and his student, generated furious debate regarding the issue of political correctness and its fallout. The production ran for a year and a half.

Mr. Gero—who often produced with his wife Woji and once with his son Mark (On Golden Pond)—scored another Off-Broadway success in 1982 with William Mastrosimone's drama Extremities. Other Off-Broadway credits included Key Exchange, Whistler, Some Men Need Help and Play Dead. Mr. Gero began his theatrical career as an actor, and made his Broadway debut in 1956 in Harold Clurman's production of Shaw's Major Barbara, starring Charles Laughton, Burgess Meredith, Glynis Johns and Eli Wallach. He also wrote several plays in his early years. Mr. Gero soon after switched to stage managing, performing that function on productions of Step on a Crack, High Spirits and Flora, the Red Menace.

In London he presented Extremities, Breaking the Silence, Camille, Glengarry Glen Ross and Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which began a long association with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He is survived by his wife Woji and his four sons, Mark, Chris, Jason, Jono and six grandchildren. From 1979 to 1992, Mr. Gero's daughter-in-law was Liza Minnelli, who married his son Mark. The couple divorced.