In Memoriam 2003: Playbill On-Line Recalls Theatre Folk Who Passed On

News   In Memoriam 2003: Playbill On-Line Recalls Theatre Folk Who Passed On
In 2003, those we said goodbye to included a groundbreaking stage and screen actress known for living and working by her own rules; an illustrator who captured the vivaciousness of live theatre with strokes of his pen; a British actor who was among a new generation of players when Osborne and Pinter were coming into their own; a Tony Award winning playwright who loved the underdog; a librettist whose work on the page was so confident it seemed to sing without music; and a tap-dance wizard who acted, sang and danced into Broadway, film and TV.
(Clockwise from top) Hume Cronyn, Dorothy Loudon, Herb Gardner, Elia Kazan, Katharine Hepburn and Gregory Hines.
(Clockwise from top) Hume Cronyn, Dorothy Loudon, Herb Gardner, Elia Kazan, Katharine Hepburn and Gregory Hines.

The respective deaths of Katharine Hepburn, Al Hirschfeld, Alan Bates, Herb Gardner, Peter Stone and Gregory Hines all made headlines in Playbill On-Line in 2003, and as the year draws to a close we reflect on the varied losses the theatre suffered in the past year.

Whether their work was seen 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. Some you know, some had no international presence. But their sparks fly upward.

This necrology was culled from the pages of the past year of Playbill On Line, but is by no means meant to be a complete list of the countless theatre people who left us — and left us inspired — in 2003.

Gerald Gutierrez, 53, the Tony Award-winning director of such Lincoln Center Theater plays as The Heiress and A Delicate Balance, late December, of respiratory failure due to flu.

Earl Hindman, 61, character actor who appeared in Off-Broadway's The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel and later gained fame as neighbor Wilson in TV's "Home Improvement," Dec. 29 of cancer. Isabelle Stevenson, 90, chair of the American Theatre Wing, and a tireless promoter of Broadway, the theatre and the Tony Awards, Dec. 28 after an illness.

Alan Bates, 69, the Tony Award-winning actor of Butley and Fortune's Fool who was a contemporary of Tom Courtenay and others as Pinter and Osborne were rising in the 1950s, Dec. 27 of cancer.

Patrick "Paddy" Crean, 93, a long-time fight director whose stage combat moves were taught to the greats of the English theatre, Dec. 22 after an illness.

Hope Lange, 70, the actress of stage and screen who appeared in the film, "Bus Stop," and Broadway's Same Time, Next Year, Dec. 19.

Johnny Cunningham, 46, the gifted fiddler and songwriter who penned an Celtic score to Mabou Mines' mesmerizing puppet play, Peter and Wendy, Dec. 15 of heart failure.

Leonard Traube, 84, whose long career as a theatrical and celebrity press agent took him from the era of Walter Winchell to the time of Liz Smith, Dec. 3 of prostate cancer.

Jack Ragotzy, 81, founder of the landmark summer stock company, The Barn Theatre in Augusta, Michigan, Dec. 15 of a heart attack.

Lewis Allen, 81, the Tony Award-winning Broadway producer who brought I'm Not Rappaport, Master Class, Tru, A Few Good Men and Annie to commercial life, Dec. 8 of pancreatic cancer.

Shirlee Harris, 74, a longtime publicist for the Nederlander family venues in Detroit, including the Birmingham Theatre, Nov. 30 of cancer.

Robert Peterson, 71, the Broadway actor who took over for Robert Goulet in the role of Lancelot in the original run of Broadway's Camelot and appeared in many plays in his native Utah, Dec. 1 of a heart attack.

Robert Bradford Van Nostrand, 40, a fixture at the Duffy Square TKTS discount tickets booth as a tireless one-on-one promoter of shows, Nov. 27 from injuries sustained in a car accident.

Kellie Waymire, 36, respected Los Angeles stage and TV actress who won a Drama-Logue Award for playing the lead role in Sylvia at California’s Old Globe Theatre, and had a choice role on TV's "Six Feet Under," Nov. 13 of a previously undetected medical condition.

Tom Kneebone, 71, a respected Canadian actor, director and writer who worked with such greats as Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, Nov. 15 following a heart attack.

Dorothy Loudon, 70, who created one of the more indelible portraits in musical comedy history with her portrayal of the slatternly, orphan-hating Miss Hannigan in the original Annie, Nov. 14 after a battle with cancer.

Rosemary Farmer Corry, 78, who, as Rosemary O'Reilly,was one of the stars of New Faces of '52 on Broadway, November.

Art Carney, 85, the Tony Award-nominated actor who appeared in Broadway's Lovers and The Odd Couple, and TV's "The Honeymooners," Nov. 9.

John Gleason, 62, lighting designer for more than 60 Broadway shows, beginning with 1965's Tartuffe at Lincoln Center Theater, Oct. 28 of heart failure.

William Swetland Jr., 90, a character actor who distinguished himself for decades in regional theatre and on Broadway, Oct. 31.

Stephen Bates, 50, a conductor, musical director, composer lyricist and arranger who conducted the launch of the 2003 national tour of The Lion King and penned Naked Boys Singing songs, Nov. 5 of AIDS-related lymphoma.

Jack Temchin, 57, co-founder of The Play Company, a troupe devoted to the production of new international plays, Oct. 26 of a sudden heart attack.

Don Evans, 65, a playwright whose works about the African-American experience, including One Monkey Don't Stop No Show, were produced around the country, Oct. 16 of a heart attack.

Janice Rule, 72, the actress who played pretty sister Madge in Broadway's Picnic, Oct. 17.

Julia Trevelyan Oman, 73, a prolific set and costume designer for English opera and theatre, and a striking and individualistic figure in British arts, Oct. 10.

Mervyn "Butch" Blake, 95, the Canadian actor and longtime member of the Stratford Festival company, Oct. 9.

Florence Stanley, 79, the gravel-voiced character actress who appeared on Broadway, in films and on TV shows such as "Barney Miller" and "My Two Dads," Oct. 3 of complications from a stroke.

Lyle Bettger, 88, who got his start as an actor on the Broadway stage of the 1940s, and went on to become a well known Hollywood character actor, Sept. 24.

Denis Quilley, 75, one of London theatre's best loved actors, who appeared in the National Theatre's Anything Goes,, Oct. 5 of cancer.

Charles Michael Moore, 54, a playwright, actor and director who worked extensively in the African American theatre, Sept. 25.

Rex Robbins, 68, the actor who played opposite Angela Lansbury in Gypsy and with Al Pacino in Richard III, Sept. 23 of an aneurysm.

Harold Fielding, 86, the British producer who delighted London audiences with lavish productions of Mame, The Music Man and the five-year smash Charlie Girl, Sept. 28.

Elia Kazan, 94, the influential and controversial stage and film director who had a critical impact on post World War II American theatre, staging the work of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, Sept. 27.

Herb Gardner, 68, the Tony Award-winning Broadway dramatist who wrote few plays (I'm Not Rappaport, A Thousand Clowns) but had many productions, Sept. 24 after a long illness.

Gordon Jump, 71, the endearing, round-faced stage and TV character actor who played a string of muddled but lovable roles (including the station owner on TV's "WKRP in Cincinnati") over a four-decade career, Sept. 22 of pulmonary fibrosis.

Adelaide Laurino, 74, a longtime wardrobe supervisor for many Broadway Shows, including Cats, Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, Sept. 20 after multiple strokes.

John Ritter, 54, the bumbling and likable comic actor whose television career stretched from the 1970's hit "Three's Company" to the new sitcom "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter," and who starred in the 2000 Broadway hit The Dinner Party, Sept. 11 of aortic dissection.

Harry Goz, 71, the fourth man to play Tevye in the original production of Fiddler on the Roof, Sept. 6.

Roland Chambers, 66, an actor, director and producer active in the Annapolis, Maryland, theatre scene for many years, Aug. 25 after a battle with lung cancer.

William Paterson, 84, a dedicated regional theatre actor for 45 years, including years with American Conservatory Theatre starting in its first season, Sept. 3 after a battle with lung cancer.

William Roy, 75, the songwriter, conductor and pianist known as a trusted accompanist to cabaret star Julie Wilson, Sept. 2 of respiratory failure following a series of small strokes.

Brad Nelson Winters, 38, artistic director of the fringe Chicago troupe, Terrapin Theatre, found Aug. 19 after being murdered.

David Jiranek, 45, a Broadway producer of Victory Begins at Home, Aug. 17 in a swimming accident.

Herbert Senn, 78, the prolific scenic designer whose four decades of near ceaseless work was seen on stages from Broadway to Boston to Cape Cod's storied Cape Playhouse, Aug. 13 of liver cancer.

Gregory Hines, 57, Tony Award-winning tap dancer-actor-singer recognized as part of a rich tradition of African-American tap masters, known for Jelly's Last Jam and TV's "Will and Grace," Aug. 9 of cancer.

Joseph Garton, 56, the tenacious Wisconsin restauranteur and theatre enthusiast who single-handedly saved from destruction Ten Chimneys, the estate of the late great acting couple Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, Aug. 2 of cancer.

Luther Henderson, 84. the musical director, arranger, orchestrator and composer who helped give the distinctive sound to such musicals as Funny Girl, Play On! and Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, July 29 after a long battle with cancer.

Bob Hope, 100, the legendary entertainment icon who appeared in Broadway plays and musicals such as Red, Hot and Blue — and in film, TV, radio, on tours, in concerts and more, July 27.

Eileen Rodgers Thompson, 73, who, as Eileen Rodgers, had a brief impact on the Broadway musical stage in the 1950s and 1960s in Fiorello! and Tenderloin, July 13.

Elliot Norton, 100, the "Dean of American Theatre Critics" and the last of the great regional reviewers who exercised considerable influence over the fare seen on Broadway during it golden years, July 20.

Jessica Grace Wing, 31, composer who scored many of the productions of Off-Broadway's Inverse Theatre Company and whose musical Lost premiered at the 2003 New York International Fringe Festival, July 19 of colon cancer.

Mike Salinas, 46, a theatre reporter who founded TheatreWeek magazine and covered the stage for various publications, July 14 of a heart attack.

Elisabeth Welch, 99, a New York City-born actress and cabaret singer whose stage and vocal career flourished in London and Europe, and who snagged a late career Tony Award nomination for Jerome Kern Goes to Hollywood, July 15.

Frederic Bradlee, 84, a Broadway actor, a writer and brother of The Washington Post's Benjamin C. Bradlee, July 13.

Markland Taylor, 65, the critic and journalist who covered New England theatre for Variety for more than a decade, July 6 of a heart attack.

Buddy Ebsen, 95, the folksy star of television's "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Barnaby Jones" who began his career as a popular Broadway dancer, July 6.

Buddy Hackett, 78, the doughy-faced comedian and character actor who had a handful of Broadway credits, including the musical, I Had a Ball, found dead in his Malibu home June 30.

Pauline Flanagan, 77, the Irish character actress who acted in hundreds of plays on either side of the Atlantic over a five-decade career, June 28.

David Newman, 66 a screenwriter and playwright best known for co-writing the screenplays to "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Superman" and the libretto of the musical, It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman!, June 27 of a stroke.

Fielder Cook, 80, the respected television director who brought many of the stage's works and stars to the small screen, June 20.

Katharine Hepburn, 96, the legendary Oscar winning actress whose heart always remained close to the live theatre, June 29, at her home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, a few miles from where she played early stage roles.

John Henry Redwood, 60, an actor and playwright whose works, The Old Settler and No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs, have been widely produced in recent years, June 17 of heart disease.

Joseph Chaikin, 67, the avant garde actor and director who founded Off-Off-Broadway's Open Theatre, for which text tended to be a jumping off point for a company to experiment, June 22 of heart failure.

George Axelrod, 81, the playwright, director and screenwriter who penned the American stage comedy, The Seven Year Itch, which popularized that term and became a film hit, June 21 in his sleep.

Hume Cronyn, 91, a two-time Tony Award winner who often acted with his wife, the late Jessica Tandy, June 15 of cancer.

Gregory Peck, 87, the tall, sonorous-voiced Hollywood actor who had the respect of industry and audience, and who helped found the La Jolla Playhouse in his native California, June 12 in his sleep.

Basil Langton, 91, a British-born actor who worked in England, Canada and the United States, in everything from Shakespeare to "Star Trek: Voyser," May 29 after a brief illness.

Karl Genus, 84, founding artistic director of Totem Pole Playhouse in Pennsylvania from 1951 to 1953, May 29 of a heart attack.

Lois F. Rosenfield, 78, co-producer of the cult film classic "Bang the Drum Slowly" and the Broadway musicals Barnum and Singin' in the Rain, May 25 of cancer.

Richard Cusack, 77, an actor, playwright and patriarch of the Cusack acting family in Chicago, June 2 of pancreatic cancer.

Martha Scott, 88, the sweet and wholesome actress who played Emily Webb in the Broadway premiere of Thornton Wilder's classic Our Town, May 28.

Rachel Kempson, 92, the grande dame of the Redgrave acting dynasty, and mother of Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave, May 23.

Jack Gelber, 71, who wrote one of the seminal sensations of Off-Broadway's early years, The Connection, May 9 of Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia, a cancer of the blood.

Wendy Hiller, 90, the British actress who brought Bernard Shaw's Eliza Doolittle and Barbara Undershaft to life in film versions of Pygmalion and Major Barbara during Shaw's lifetime, May 14.

Caroline H. Newhouse, 93, the philanthropic angel of the arts and a major donor to Career Transitions for Dancers, which helps ballet and Broadway dancers when dance is no longer a career option, April 26.

Elaine Steinbeck, 88, the widow of John Steinbeck (whose work she protected and promoted after his death) and a former Broadway stage manager in a time when women rarely held such positions, April 27.

Robert Randolph, 76, a Broadway lighting and scenic designer nominated for multiple Tony Awards over the years, March 2 of heart failure.

Peter Stone, 73, the Tony Award-winning librettist who wrote the books of the Broadway musicals Titanic, My One and Only, Sugar, The Will Rogers Follies and 1776, April 26 after suffering pulmonary fibrosis.

Cholly Atkins, 89, a Broadway tap dancer and choreographer whose collaborations with Charles "Honi" Coles were the stuff of showbiz legend (the strutted in the original Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) April 19.

David Schall, 53, one of the founders of Actor's Co-Op, April 11 in Hollywood, shortly before the opening night curtain of Uncle Vanya, in which he was to appear.

Vera Zorina, 86, the ballet dancer, actress and onetime wife of George Balanchine, who danced in On Your Toes and was an artist in the fervent years when art and showbiz were being merged in American musical theatre, April 9.

Philip Yordan, 88, the playwright who scored one of the biggest Broadway successes of the 1940s with Anna Lucasta, March 24.

Michael Jeter, 50, the lean, loose-limbed character actor who won a 1990 Tony Award playing a dying clerk looking for one last fling in the musical, Grand Hotel, found dead in his Hollywood Hills home March 30.

Paul Zindel, 66, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in the-Moon Marigolds, March 27 of cancer.

Peggy Conklin, a Broadway actress who appeared in everything from the Gershwins' Treasure Girl to The Petrified Forest, March 18 at her home in Napes, FL.

Edward Colton, 97, a theatrical lawyer who helped create the standard limited partnership relationship between producers and money people in American theatre, Feb. 27.

Lynne Thigpen, 54, the respected actress with the rich, strong voice who won a Tony Award for An American Daughter on Broadway, March 12.

Patricia Baker, 68, one of the unseen people who help make a Broadway show run smoothly as a backstage dresser of actors, Feb. 23 after a battle with cervical cancer.

Frankie Hewitt, 71, the arts and humanities advocate instrumental in making the legendary Ford's Theatre a living, working, producing venue, Feb. 28 after a battle with cancer.

Susan Johnson, 74, the big-voiced Broadway soubrette show tune fans know from the original cast album of The Most Happy Fella, on which she sang "Big D," Feb. 24 after a long illness.

Vincent G. Liff, 52, the longtime Broadway casting director connected to such major Broadway hits as Cats, Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables, Feb. 25 after a six-year battle with a brain tumor.

Louis LaRusso II, 67, the prolific Tony Award nominated playwright whose hometown of Hoboken, NJ, honored him with a special proclamation in 1998 for chronicling the Hoboken experience in 26 plays, Feb. 22 of cancer.

Tanya Moiseiwitsch, 88, the London-born scenic and costume designer who would become the founding designer of Canada's internationally-renowned Stratford Festival (she designed the Festival Theatre thrust stage) Feb. 18.

Benjamin Rush "Rusty" Magee, 47, a composer and lyricist whose musical, The Green Heart, written with Charles Busch, was staged by Manhattan Theatre Club, Feb. 16 after a battle with cancer.

Peter Shaw, 84, the TV producer and former agent who was actress Angela Lansbury's longtime husband, Jan. 29 of congestive heart failure.

Sylvia Regan Ellstein, 94, the playwright whose 1940 Broadway play, Morning Star, found renewed life in regional theatres in recent years, Jan. 18.

Joseph A. Walker Jr., 67, the 1974 Tony Award winning playwright of The River Niger, Jan. 25 following a stroke.

Stan Martin, 64, a New York City radio personality who championed the cabaret scene, theatre music and American popular song, Jan. 28 of a stroke.

Lester Osterman, 88, a Broadway producer and theatre operator who was a Tony-winner for Da, The Shadow Box and A Moon for the Misbegotten, Jan. 28.

Pat Christian, 67, a retired Actors' Equity Association business representative, Jan. 22 after a battle with cancer.

Norman Panama, 88, the screenwriter who, with Melvin Frank, wrote the screenplay "White Christmas" and the libretto to the 1956 Broadway musical, Li'l Abner, Jan. 13 of complications from Parkinson's disease.

George Haimsohn, 77, co-librettist and co lyricist of Off-Broadway's Dames at Sea, the spoof of 1930s movie musicals that launched Bernadette Peters in 1968, Jan. 17 after suffering an aneurysm.

Nell Carter, 54, the zaftig actress-singer who won a Tony Award for singing Fats Waller tunes in Ain't Misbehavin', Jan. 23 of natural causes in her Beverly Hills home, though she struggled with diabetes over the years and had a brain aneurysm in the 1990s.

Al Hirschfeld, 99, the pen-and-ink illustrator who chronicled 75 years of American theatrical and showbiz history in the arts pages of The New York Times and elsewhere, Jan. 20 in his sleep.

Scott Shukat, 66, the respected agent and manager for such theatre figures as songwriters Alan Menken and Carol Hall, Jan. 9 as a result of melanoma carcinoma.

Jean Kerr, 80, a popular Broadway playwright and humorist (Mary, Mary, "Please Don't Eat the Daisies"), who was the widow of drama critic Walter Kerr, Jan. 5.

Ben Segal, 83, a producer and founder of the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, CT, Dec. 27, 2002, in Wallingford after a brief illness (his death was reported in 2003).

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