IN MEMORIAM: Playbill.com Remembers Those We Lost in 2013

By Robert Simonson
December 30, 2013

Actors Julie Harris, Peter O'Toole, Joan Fontaine, Christopher Evan Welch, Jean Stapleton, Karen Black and Jane Connell, veteran press agent Shirley Herz, theatre pioneer Ruth Maleczech and producer Roy Miller were among those who left us in 2013. At year's end, Playbill remembers them and others who enriched our lives through their commitment to the stage.



The star of "Lawrence of Arabia." The Oscar-winning actress of "Suspicion." One of the leading actresses of the 20th-century American stage. An erudite critic who appraised the theatre for a half century. Two of the seminal figures in Chicago theatre history. The choreographer and one of the cast members of the film "The Sound of Music." Three leaders of the early Off-Off-Broadway movement: One a director, one an actress and one an actress-director. And a Sardi's caricaturist.

Respectively, Peter O'Toole; Joan Fontaine; Julie Harris; Bernie Sahlins and Robert Sickinger; Marc Breaux and Eleanor Parker; Ralph Cook, Helen Hanft and Ruth Maleczech; and Donald Bevan were just a few of the many theatre people we lost in 2013. As 2014 breaks, Playbill.com looks back to reflect on the contributions of some of the theatre folk who died in the past calendar year.

Full stories are archived in Playbill.com's Obituaries section.

Chuck Patterson, a Broadway and Off-Broadway actor who directed at Ensemble Studio Theatre, New Federal Theatre and Cleveland Playhouse, on Dec. 23.

Joan Fontaine, 96, who rocketed to fame playing frightened wives in two landmark Hitchcock films of the early 1940s, on Dec. 16 of natural causes at her home in Carmel, CA.

Peter O'Toole, 81, the charismatic, devil-may-care film star of "Lawrence of Arabia" who brought charm, wit and intelligence to the roles he played on the screen, on Dec. 14 at the Wellington Hospital in London, following a long illness.

Jack Merigold, 91, part of Stratford Festival's first stage management team and who stayed with the company for 16 seasons, on Dec. 11 from pancreatic cancer.

Eleanor Parker

Eleanor Parker, 91, a film actress known for her versatility and wide variety of portrayals and whose most famous role was as the Baroness in "The Sound of Music," on Dec. 9 at a medical facility near her home in Palm Springs.

Christopher Evan Welch, 48, a prolific character actor in television and film who performed in a host of plays on the New York stage, on Dec. 2 at a Los Angeles hospital.

Jane Kean, 90, an actress with stage and cabaret credits who was best known for playing Art Carney's wife Trixie in a 1960s revival of the Jackie Gleason sitcom "The Honeymooners," on Nov. 26 at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank from injuries suffered during a fall.

Marc Breaux, 89, who, with his wife Dee Dee Wood, delighted 1960s movie audiences with his choreography for the hit Julie Andrews musicals "The Sound of Music" and "Mary Poppins," on Nov. 19 in Mesa, AZ, in an assisted-living facility.

William Dodds, 91, a veteran stage manager with dozens of Broadway credits, on Nov. 1 in his sleep.

Julie Harris

Byron Nease, 59, who originated the role of Raoul in the Canadian production of The Phantom of the Opera, on Oct. 16.

Stanley Kauffmann, a thinking-man's drama and film critic who spent a half century mulling over the arts of stage and screen, their histories and practitioners, on Oct. 9 of pneumonia at St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan.

Henry Guettel, 85, the father of composer Adam Guettel, for whom musical theatre was both work and home life, died of pneumonia Oct. 7 in Southampton, NY.

Paul Rogers, 96, the British actor who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of the brutish father of a twisted family in the original Broadway production of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, on Oct. 6 in London.

Ruth Maleczech, 74, who co-founded the influential and sui generis experimental theatre troupe Mabou Mines and helped shepherd it through four decades of productions, on Sept. 30 at her home.

June Reimer Springer, 85, an actress, singer and dancer who, as June Reimer, appeared in several shows in the 1940s and '50s, including the original production of Kiss Me, Kate, on Sept. 27 in Chico, CA.

Ralph Cook, 85, who, as founder of Theatre Genesis, was a significant figure in the formation of the Off-Off-Broadway scene in the 1960s, on Sept. 23 in Bay Minette, AL.

Jane Connell, 87, a career character stage actress who, despite her diminutive stature, commanded many a musical comedy stage — most notably, through her portrayal of the daffy Agnes Gooch in the original stage production of Jerry Herman's Mame — on Sept. 22. She was 87.

Marjorie Gunner, 91, who for 25 years led the Outer Critics Circle, a group of theatre reviewers based outside New York City who annually give out awards honoring theatre artists, on Sept. 21 in Washington, D.C., of natural causes.

Julie Harris, 87, a towering "anti-diva" figure of the American theatre in the decades following World War II, who created several iconic stage roles — collecting five Tony Awards along the way — on Aug. 24 in West Chatham, MA, of congestive heart failure.

Karen Black

Henry Polic II, 68, a veteran stage and television actor with dozens of credits, died Aug. 11 after a long battle with cancer.

Jane Harvey, 88, who recorded with the Benny Goodman orchestra in the 1940's and later sang with Desi Arnaz, died at her home in Los Angeles Aug. 15, of cancer.

Shirley Herz, 78, a veteran theatre press agent who ran her own firm at a time when her industry was dominated by men, on Aug. 11, at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, from complications from a stroke.

Eydie Gorme, 84, a popular singer of the '50s and '60s in the wholesome, all-American vein, who became known the world over as half of the duo Steve and Eydie when she married Steve Lawrence, on Aug. 10 at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas.

Regina Resnik, 90, an opera star who sang more than 300 performances at the Metropolitan Opera and who received a Tony Award nomination for Cabaret in 1987, died on Aug. 8 in Manhattan.

Karen Black, 75, a film actress who, through her singularly quirky, sensuous, cross-eyed charm, came to epitomize the roguish spirit of American filmmaking of the late '60s and early '70s, on Aug. 8 following a long battle with cancer.

Richard "Bick" Goss, 75, a theatre director and choreographer, former Bob Fosse dancer, and the founder and co-artistic director of the non-profit musical theatre development organization, Musical Mondays Theatre Lab, on Aug. 3 from complications related to Parkinson's Disease.

Eileen Brennan, 80, who brought wit, character and an earthy sexuality to a host of roles on both screen and stage, on July 28 at her home in Burbank.

Miller Wright, 59, a veteran New York theatre publicist, died July 18, after a fall from his 23rd floor Manhattan apartment.

Ashton Springer, 82, a Broadway producer whose credits included the hit musical revues Bubbling Brown Sugar and Eubie!, on July 15 in Mamaroneck, NY, of pneumonia.

Jean Stapleton

Gary Gardner, 69, a longtime theatre professor at UCLA, died of natural causes in his home on June 15.

Richard Allen, 76, a stage and television actor who also worked under the name Shango Amin, on June 12.

Anne Einhorn, 89, who over many years worked in several capacities at the Off-Broadway nonprofit theatre company Primary Stages, on July 11.

Donald Bevan, 93, who created caricatures of theatre greats for the walls of Sardi's Restaurant, on May 29 at his home in Studio City, CA.

Bernard Sahlins, 90, who, as the co-founder of Second City, the legendary improvisational comedy theatre group, had an incalculable affect on generations of American comedy, on June 16 in his home.

Jean Stapleton, 90, a seasoned stage and film actress who found lasting fame as the dimwitted and big-hearted wife of Archie Bunker on the 1970s social sitcom "All in the Family," on May 31 at her home in New York City.

Helen Hanft, 79, a brassy performer who established herself as a regular presence on the small stages of the Off-Off-Broadway movement of the 1960s and '70s to such an extent that New York Times drama critic Mel Gussow called her the "Ethel Mermen of the Underground," from intestinal complications on May 30 at Roosevelt Hospital.

Leslie B. Cutler, 93, who directed of hundreds of productions over a 50-year period at the Kenley Players in Ohio and other stock venues, of congestive heart failure at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan on May 18.

Ruth Kraft, 86, a theatre journalist and publisher who worked at Playbill magazine and was co-founder of Performing Arts magazine in Los Angeles, CA, in her sleep on May 9.

Robert Sickinger, 86, a director who played an significant role in shaping Chicago's modern theatre scene, on May 9 in Delray Beach, FL.

Kevin Gray and wife Dodie Pettit
Photo by Monica Simoes

Eugene V. Wolsk, 84, a theatre veteran who rose through the Broadway ranks from company manager to general manager to producer, on May 2.

Jacqueline Brookes, 82, a stage actress who was known for her facility with the work of dramatic authors, both modern and classic, died April 26 in Manhattan.

Roy Miller, who came into his own as a Broadway producer over the past decade, died on April 28, following a brief illness. He was 52.

Lisa Jalowetz Aronson, 93, who, as assistant to her husband, the legendary scenic designer Boris Aronson, played a role in some of the most famous stage productions of the 20th century, of respiratory failure on April 18 at her home in Nyack.

Sam Crothers, 75, a Broadway producer, on April 13 in his Boynton Beach, FL, home after a year-long battle with lymphoma.

Helena Carroll, 84, a Scottish-born actress who did stage, film and television work in the United States, on March 31 in Marina del Rey, CA, of heart failure.

Sybil Christopher, 83, the actress, director and nightclub owner who helped found Long Island's Bay Street Theatre and was its artistic director for 22 years, on March 9.

Arthur Storch, 87, the founding producing artistic director of Syracuse Stage and former chair of Syracuse University's department of drama, on March 5.

Bonnie Franklin, 69, who starred as a single mother navigating the dating and working worlds of the 1970s and early '80s in the popular sitcom "One Day at a Time," on March 1, of pancreatic cancer, at her home in Los Angeles.

Lou Myers, 77, an actor who worked in film and theatre, but was best known for his regular role on the sitcom "A Different World," on Feb. 19 in West Virginia at Charleston Medical Center, following a heart-related emergency.

Kevin Gray, 55, a Broadway performer who appeared in productions of British mega-musicals like The Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon, on Feb. 11, according to The Hartt School in Hartford, for which he worked.

Paul Ainsley

Garrett Lewis, 77, an Academy Award-nominated set decorator, on Jan. 29 at his home in Woodland Hills, CA, of natural causes.

Paul Ainsley, 67, who created the role of King Herod in the original Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar, on Jan. 19 in Los Angeles from heart-related complications.

John R. Powers, 67, who wrote the book of the hit musical Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, on Jan. 17 of a heart attack.

Conrad Bain, 89, who became a familiar television face as a star of two popular sitcoms, "Maude" and "Diff'rent Stokes," while maintaining a steady stage career, on Jan. 14. He was 89.

Susan Hight Denny, 84, who starred on Broadway in the original production of Guys and Dolls and later taught musical theatre vocal performance at American University, on Jan. 13 in Silver Spring, MD, after a long illness.