Sidney Michaels, Broadway Playwright of 1960s, Dies at 83

Obituaries   Sidney Michaels, Broadway Playwright of 1960s, Dies at 83
Sidney Michaels, an American playwright who scored a string of notable Broadway productions in the 1960s, died April 22 in Westport, CT. He was 83.

Mr. Michaels' career caught fire in the mid-60s, when he had plays produced on Broadway three seasons running, each of them winning the author a Tony Award nomination.

Tchin-Tchin, a David Merrick-produced sex farce adapted by Mr. Michaels from a French play, ran for much of the 1962-63 season, fueled by good reviews and the wattage of stars Anthony Quinn and Margaret Leighton. Dylan, a bio-play about poet Dylan Thomas, played for nine months in 1964, and won star Alec Guinness his sole Tony Award. Ben Franklin in Paris, a musical for which Mr. Michaels wrote the book and lyrics (with Mark Sandrich Jr.), ran almost exactly as long, and provided Robert Preston with one of his signature musical roles.

Mr. Michaels' luck ran thin after that. A couple musical projects—one a collaboration with Richard Rodgers, another starring Barbara Cook—never saw the New York stage. Those shows that did, the musical Goodtime Charley and Tricks of the Trade, closed quickly in 1975 and 1980, respectively. The latter, starring George C. Scott, shuttered in a single night. For film, he wrote the screenplay for 1968's "The Night They Raided Minsky's."

Young Sidney Michaels was successful even before he was produced. In 1961, he suddenly found himself with four of his scripts optioned. Among them were Tchin-Tchin and what was then titled Dylan Thomas in America, which was originally slated to star Richard Burton. The other two, Saltpeter in the Rhubarb, another adaptation of a French play, set in a mental hospital, and The Plaster Bambino, about a confidence man, never made it to Broadway, though Gower Champion was attached to the latter at one point.

Sidney Michaels, born in New York City on Aug. 17, 1927, and raised in Boston, sprung from theatrical roots. His maternal grandparents were a vaudeville act know as Fields & Fink, and his father, Max Michaels, was a producer of burlesque shows in Boston. Mr. Michaels is survived by his wife, Louisette, whom he married in 1956; a son, Cotter, of Fairfield; a daughter, Candia Steen, of New York City; and six grandchildren.

Today’s Most Popular News: