Stuart W. Little, Chronicler of the Theatre, Dies at 86

Obituaries   Stuart W. Little, Chronicler of the Theatre, Dies at 86
Stuart W. Little, who for three decades covered the New York theatre as a reporter and author, died on July 27 in Canaan, CT, of congestive heart failure. He was 86.

After working his way up the ladder at the New York Herald Tribune, which he joined in 1946, he was given a theatre column, which he wrote from 1958 until the newspaper closed in 1966. Thereafter, he became known for a series of books that examined the inner workings of the theatre business. The first of these, "The Playmakers," was published by W.W. Norton in 1970. Co-written with producer Arthur Cantor, it took a close look at every branch of professionals in the theatre trade, from actors to directors to critics. Though not as well known as William Goldman's similarly oriented "The Season," which came out a couple years earlier, it was more sympathetic to the people who put on shows, and remains a minor classic of its type.

After that, he published "Off Broadway: The Prophetic Theater" in 1972, training his gaze on the downtown theatre movement which began in earnest following World War II and continued to grow during Mr. Little's lifetime. The titanic figure of New York Shakespeare Festival founder Joseph Papp received Mr. Little's attention in "Enter Joseph Papp: In Search of a New American Theater." The book was the first full-length treatment of Papp's career and influence. For it, he trailed the impresario for a year, tracking his every artistic and business decision.

Stuart West Little was born in Hartford on Dec. 12, 1921. He graduated from Yale in 1944 and served in the Office of Strategic Services, the World War II progenitor of the Central Intelligence Agency, according to the New York Times. From 1986 to 2001 he edited the quarterly newsletter of the Theater Development Fund.

Mr. Little and the late William F. Buckley Jr. struck an unlikely partnership with the Buckley-Little Catalogue of out-of-print books available directly from authors, a service now available through

Mr. Little is survived by his wife of 62 years, Anastazia Lillie Marie Raben-Levetzau; his son Christopher; and two daughters, Caroline Larken and Suzanne Little.

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