Manny Fox, Producer and Director, Dies at 77

By Robert Simonson
September 28, 2012

Manny Fox, a producer and director who worked with a host of American theatre and musical artists and was one of the producers of the hit 1980s musical revue Sophisticated Ladies, died Sept. 23 in Phoenix, AZ, as a result of complications from a heart condition. He was 77.



Born Dec. 6, 1934, in New York City, Manheim Fox's first major theatre offering was a 1959 Greenwich Village revue called The Roots of Jazz, presented at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Long intimately involved in the music world, he presented jazz festivals featuring the likes of Louis Armstrong and Sarah Vaughan, and folk festivals at Carnegie Hall with Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters, Phil Ochs, Buffy Sainte-Marie and the Staple Singers.

A five-disc retrospective of Duke Ellington produced by Mr. Fox led to the idea of presenting the Ellington revue Sophisticated Ladies. The show ran for two years on Broadway, made a star of Gregory Hines and was nominated for several Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Mr. Fox produced five subsequent companies of Sophisticated Ladies throughout the world, including stagings in Japan and Russia.

In the recording studio, Mr. Fox also produced albums featuring Orson Welles' broadcast of "The War of the Worlds"; "The Golden Age of Comedy," narrated by George Burns; and "Showstoppers," a collection of 50 performances by the original casts in Broadway musicals that included Ethel Merman, Rex Harrison, Barbra Streisand and Ezio Pinza.

Mr. Fox is survived by his four sons, Stephen, Richard, Jon and William, as well as three grandchildren.