In Memoriam: Playbill.com Remembers Those We Lost in 2010

By Robert Simonson
December 31, 2010

Two members of a dynastic British stage family. Two-thirds of the writing team that created Fiddler on the Roof. Two indefatigable chroniclers of the theatre. The man who brought Oh! Calcutta! to the stage. One of the last Ziegfeld Girls. One of the last surviving stars of the Yiddish Theatre. And Baby June. The theatre lost these and many other lights during 2010.



Respectively, Corin and Lynn Redgrave, Jerry Bock and Joseph Stein, Michael Kuchwara and John Willis, Hillard Elkins, Doris Eaton Travis and Mina Bern were among theatre people we lost in 2010. As 2011 dawns, Playbill.com now looks back to reflect on the contributions of 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.

 

Marcia Lewis

Marcia Lewis, 72, the belting musical theatre character actress of Grease! and Chicago, Dec. 21, in Nashville.

Blake Edwards, 88, the prolific film director who brought his movie "Victor/Victoria" to the Broadway stage, Dec. 16, in Santa Monica, CA.

Domini Blythe, 63, a member of the Stratford Festival's acting company for 11 seasons over a 30-year period between 1976 and 2006, on Dec. 15 in Montreal.

Donald H. Josephson, 82 a prominent theatrical advertising executive during the Golden Age of Broadway, Dec. 8, in Manhattan.

Lawrence Dolin, 67, founder of Cleveland's Front Row Theater, on Dec. 6 in Cleveland.

Hillard Elkins, 81 a producer and talent agent who brought the landmark nude revue Oh! Calcutta! to Broadway, on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles.

Leslie Nielsen, 84, the "Airplane!" and "Naked Gun" star who spent the second, more-successful half of his bisected performing career sending up the serious parts he specialized in the first half of his career, on Nov. 28, in Florida.

Oscar Brockett, 87, a prominent theatre historian who authored the ubiquitous college text "History of the Theatre," on Nov. 6 in Austin, TX

Jill Clayburgh
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Jill Clayburgh, 66, an Oscar nominee for "An Unmarried Woman" whose short spell of film superstardom as a 1970s symbol of female liberation was framed on either side by several prominent stage turns, on Nov. 5 at her home in Lakeville, CT.

 

Noel Taylor, 97, who designed the costumes for dozens of Broadway shows, including some of the most popular productions of the 1950s, on Nov. 4 in Los Angeles.

 

Jerry Bock, who composed the indelible score to Fiddler on the Roof, and collaborated with longtime creative partner, lyricist Sheldon Harnick, on many other shows during a prolific 15 years beginning in 1956, on Nov. 3 in Westchester County, NY.

Shannon Tavarez, 11, the young actress who appeared as Young Nala in The Lion King on Broadway, and lost her battle with leukemia, on Nov. 1 at the Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York.

James MacArthur, 72, the actor son of late actress Helen Hayes and famed playwright Charles MacArthur, on Oct. 28 in Florida.

Joseph Stein, 98, the veteran musical librettist who penned the books to such shows as Fiddler on the Roof and Zorba, on Oct. 24 in Manhattan.

Tom Bosley

Tom Bosley, 83, the Broadway character actor who won a 1960 Tony Award for playing Mayor LaGuardia in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Fiorello!, and later became a TV star on "Happy Days," on Oct. 19 in Palm Springs, CA.

Simon MacCorkindale, 58, the dashing British actor of stage and television, on Oct. 15 in London. He was 58.

Arthur Penn, 88, a serious-minded director who left a significant mark in both film and theatre with works like "Bonnie and Clyde," "Little Big Man," Two for the Seesaw and The Miracle Worker, on Sept. 28, at his home in New York City

James Stovall, 52 a Broadway actor who worked with Bob Fosse and acted in the original production of Ragtime, on Sept. 26 at a hospital in Manhattan.

Frank Bayer, 74, a production manager with many Broadway credits, on Sept. 22 at the Actors' Fund Medical Center in Englewood, NJ.

 

Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy, 96 who, while never attaining the status of a star, worked steadily on stage and in film for nearly seven decades, on Sept. 11 at the Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis.

Harold Gould, 86, noted character actor known for his work on "Rhoda," Broadway and Off-Broadway, on Sept. 11 in Los Angeles.

John W. Kluge, 95, the German-born, self-made billionaire who at one time owned Playbill magazine, on Sept. 7 in.

George David Weiss, 89, the author of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and composer of a few lesser-known Broadway musicals, on Aug. 23 at his home in Oldwick, NJ.

Suzanne Grossman, 71, an actress and writer who performed in the original 1966 Broadway production of The Lion in Winter, on Aug. 19 in Los Angeles.

Audrey M. Ashley, 83, one of the major theatre critics of 20th-century Canadian theatre, on Aug. 16 in her Stratford, Ontario, home.

Paul Ryan Rudd, 70, an actor who for a brief period in the 1970s and 1980s was a leading player on Broadway and interpreter of Shakespeare, on Aug. 12 at his home in Greenwich, CT.

 

Tab Baker, 50, a Chicago stage actor, on Aug. 9 in his Chicago home.

Patricia Neal

Patricia Neal, 84, the glamorous yet earthy star whose Hollywood career was highlighted by an Oscar-winning turn in Hud, but frequently interrupted by a tragic personal life, on Aug. 8 at her home in Edgartown, MA.

David William, 85, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's artistic director for three years, on July 28.

Carl Gordon, 78, an actor who began his career late in life, and appeared on Broadway in Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death and two August Wilson plays, on July 23 in Jetersville, VA.

Jim Neu, 66, an actor and playwright whose wry, witty works examined the caked-on artifice of popular culture through wordplay and irony, on July 19 in his home in Brooklyn.

Larry Keith, 79, whose long stage career began with several small roles in the original production of My Fair Lady and included several other Broadway musicals, on July 17 in Manhattan.

 

James Gammon, 70, a rangy, gruff character actor who found his natural mileau in a slew of plays by Sam Shepard, on July 16 in Costa Mesa.

Buff Cobb, 82, an actress who found fame as co-host of one of television's first talk shows, "Mike and Buff," and later produced a series of plays on Broadway, on July 12 at a nursing home in Lebanon, NH.

Israel Hicks, 66, who directed August Wilson's entire ten-play, ten-decade exploration of the black experience in America for the Denver Center Theatre Company, on July 3 in New York.

John Willis, 93, the tireless curator of the Theatre World annuals and the Theatre World Awards since the mid-1960s, on July 25 in Manhattan.

Elzbieta Czyzewska, 72, a star of Polish movies and television in the 1960s who ended up scraping together a career in America after becoming an unwilling exile from her country, on June 17 in Manhattan.

Christine Johnson (right), with Jan Clayton, in Carousel

Christine Johnson Smith, 98, who gained lasting theatre fame for a single stage role, Nettie Fowler in the original production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel, on June 9 at her home in Owensboro, KY.

Rue McClanahan, 76, the star of two long-running sitcoms, "Maude" and "The Golden Girls," and occasional plays, on June 3 in New York.

Larry French, 58, a musical actor and concert artist, on May 28 in New York.

Michael Kuchwara, 64, a steady presence on the aisle as a longtime theatre critic for the Associated Press, on May in Manhattan.

Guy Adkins, 41, who over the past decade rose to become one of the Chicago theatre scene's most visible and popular actors, on May 12 in his Chicago apartment.

Doris Eaton Travis, 106, possibly the last of the original Ziegfeld Girls who inspired 21st century audiences with her pluck and fancy footwork at 12 of 13 annual Easter Bonnet Competition performances for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, on May 11 in Commerce, MI.

 

Lena Horne, 92, the elegant and statuesque singer who broke down color barriers by becoming one of Hollywood's first African-American female stars, and who later made a triumphant return to Broadway, on May 9 in New York.

Lynn Redgrave

Lynn Redgrave, 67, a member of England's legendary acting clan who won fame through early film roles like "Georgy Girl" and later in life became a respected playwright, taking as her subject the stories members of her extended family, on May 2 at her home in Connecticut.

Melvyn Zerman, 79, founder of the theatrical publishing imprint Limelight Editions, on April 29 at his home in Manhattan.

M. Edgar Rosenblum, 78, an arts executive who nurtured Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven into one of the most prominent regional house in America, on April 18 in Woodstock, NY.

Dixie Carter, 70, the actress who played Julia Sugarbaker for seven seasons on television's "Designing Women," and carved out a late career as a nightclub singer, on April 10 in Beverly Hills, CA.

Corin Redgrave, the actor-activist brother of Vanessa and Lynn who forged a less celebrated, but nonetheless impressive career on the British stage, on April 6 in a South London hospital.

Craig Noel, 94, the founding director of San Diego's Old Globe, one of the leading nonprofit theatres in America, on April 3 in San Diego.

Jadin Wong, 96, a Chinese-American pioneer, whose career spanned nightclubs, theatre, comedy and film, on March 30 in New York City.

June Havoc

June Havoc, 96, aka "Baby June," a show-business legend whose hard-knocks, Vaudeville childhood as a stage performer and sister of Gypsy Rose Lee was depicted in the classic musical Gyspy, died March 28, in Stamford, CT.

Richard Engquist, 76, the lyricist of Off-Broadway's Kuni-Leml, Little Ham and other musicals, on March 18 in Brooklyn

Carmen Capalbo, who directed the historic Greenwich Village revival of The Threepenny Opera that changed that classic musical's modern fortunes, on March 14 in Manhattan.

Taylor John, 28, who performed on Broadway in the role of Gavroche in Les Miserables in the early 1990s, and was the son of baseball great Tommy John, on March 9 in Chicago.

H.M. Koutoukas, a colorful and prolific playwright who wrote and staged literally scores of works in the early days of the Off-Off-Broadway movement, on March 6 at his home in Manhattan.

Nan Martin, 82, a stage actress who was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in J.B., on March 4 at her home in Malibu.

Kathryn Grayson

Kathryn Grayson, 88, who won a lasting place in the annals of the Hollywood movie musical through her performances in the M-G-M films "Kiss Me, Kate," "Show Boat" and "Anchors Aweigh," on Feb. 17 at her home in Los Angeles.

Lindsay Thomas, 31, a young talent at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada, on Feb. 3.

Frances Reid, 95 a stage and television actress well known to soap fans as Alice Horton on "Days of Our Lives," a role she played for 40 years, on Feb. 3 in Beverly Hills, CA.

Lars Hansen, 60, whose career in arts management included a decade-long turn as executive director of Pasadena Playhouse, on Jan. 31 in Palm Springs.

David Brown, 93, the gentlemanly producer of Hollywood films and a handful of Broadway shows, and husband of Helen Gurley Brown, on Feb. 1 at his home in Manhattan.

Pernell Roberts, 81, the high-minded stage actor who found fame, but also discontent, as one of the original stars of "Bonanza," in Jan. 25 at his home in Malibu, CA.

James Mitchell, 89, a major interpreter of the work of Agnes de Mille and spent 30 years playing Palmer Cortlandt on the soap opera "All My Children," on Jan. 22.

Jean Simmons, 80, the British-born actress who lent her ladylike beauty and graceful presence to a string of Hollywood films in the post-World War II era, on Jan. 20 in Santa Monica, CA.

Charles Nolte

Charles Nolte, 87, a stage and screen actor who directed, wrote and taught in the Twin Cities, on Jan. 14 in Minneapolis.

Kenneth P. Strong, 52, a longtime actor at PlayMakers Repertory Company in North Carolina, and a dramatic art professor at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on Jan. 12 in Durham, NC.

Mina Bern, 98, an actress was a star in Poland and Russia before coming to New York, and who was one of the last living links to the city's once-thriving Yiddish theatre scene, on Jan. 10 in New York City.

Donal Donnelly, 78, who created roles in several plays by his fellow Irishman, Brian Friel, on Jan. 4 in Chicago.

Margery Beddow, 72, who first danced for Bob Fosse and then wrote a book about the choreographer, on Jan. 3 in her home in New York City.

Bennett Bradley, 60, a director and fixture at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles there, on Jan. 2 in L.A.