In Memoriam: Remembers Those We Lost in 2006

Special Features   In Memoriam: Remembers Those We Lost in 2006
The original George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Man of La Mancha's first Dulcinea. The woman who created the part of Miss Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls. The original April in Company. The creator of Serafina Delle Rose in The Rose Tattoo. Da himself. We lost these actors in 2006, as well as many more theatre professionals, including two Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights, a history-making director, a legendary Broadway producer, an esteemed drama critic, one of Broadway's greatest lyricists and the man who would have been Actors' Equity's new executive director.
The late Wendy Wasserstein.
The late Wendy Wasserstein. Photo by Jill Kre

This necrology was culled from the 2006 pages of but is by no means meant to be a complete list of the countless theatre people who left us — and left us inspired — in the past 12 months.

Anne Meachum, 80, the stage actress of fragile, angular beauty best known for her work in several plays by Tennessee Williams and an acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Hedda Gabler, Jan. 12 at her home in Canaan, NY.

Shelley Winters, reportedly 85, the candid, unpretentious, Oscar-winning actress who played brassy, blowsy supporting roles in many memorable films and a handful of notable stage turns, including Oklahoma! and A Hatful of Rain, Jan. 14 at the Rehabilitation Center of Beverly Hills, CA.

Anthony Franciosa, 77, the volatile Method actor who came to fame through his Tony-nominated work in A Hatful of Rain, and was once married to Shelley Winters, Jan. 19 following a stroke.

Fayard Nicholas, 91, the surviving half of the athletic tap duo of stage and screen known as The Nicholas Brothers, and a Tony Award winning choreographer for Black and Blue, Jan. 24 of pneumonia and other complications of a stroke. Wendy Wasserstein, 55, who dramatized the progress of her generation of women through a series of comic and rueful plays, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles, Jan. 30 of lymphoma.

Endesha Ida Mae Holland, 61, the scholar, educator and playwright who penned From the Mississippi Delta, seen in many regional theatres around the country, Jan. 25 in a California nursing home.

Franklin Cover, 77, the Broadway actor who played the interracially married white neighbor Tom Willis on TV's "The Jeffersons," Feb. 5 of pneumonia.

Carmel Ross, 83, a London-born actress and writer who, with her producer-director husband David Ross, collaborated on a series of Off-Broadway productions in the '50s and '60s, Jan. 29 in New York City.

Priscilla Gillette, 80, the Broadway soprano who appeared in the musicals Brigadoon, The Golden Apple, Regina and Out of This World, Feb. 2 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York following a period of declining health.

John Belluso, 36, the wheelchair-using playwright whose works, including Pyretown and Pretty Good Times, often focused on characters with disabilities and were staged with increasing frequency in recent seasons, Feb. 10, in New York City.

Don Lewis, 70, a character actor who was seen at the prestigious Stratford Festival under the name Lewis Gordon, Feb. 9 of a heart attack.

Richard Bright, 68, a character actor who appeared in all three "Godfather" films, and as the First Murderer in Al Pacino's Richard III on Broadway, Feb. 18 after being struck by a bus in Manhattan.

Don Knotts, 81, the TV, film and stage actor who capitalized on a persona of the nervous, bumbling boob in "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Three's Company," Feb. 24 of pulmonary and respiratory complications at U.C.L.A. Medical Center in Beverly Hills.

Diane Shalet, an actress and teacher who was a charter member of the Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre, Feb. 23 in Palm Springs.

Darren McGavin, 83, who played a memorable collection of gruff, worldly-wise and unmistakably American characters over a six-decade career on stage and film, including Starbuck in the original The Rainmaker, Feb. 25, at a Los Angeles hospital.

Jack Wild, 53, who won acclaim as the Artful Dodger in the 1968 film version of the 1960 Lionel Bart musical Oliver! , in England March 1, after a long battle with oral cancer.

Dana Reeve, 44, the actress and widow of Christopher Reeve, March 6 after a battle with lung cancer.

Joe Bova, 81 who was Prince Dauntless to Carol Burnett's Princess Fred in Once Upon a Mattress, March 12 at the Actors' Fund Retirement Home in New Jersey.

Maureen Stapleton, a tough, earthy actress who, through a series of roles on Broadway and in film—including the original The Rose Tattoo (Tony Award) and the film “Reds”—established herself as a commanding, sympathetic, and improbably sexy presence, died March 13 in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Oleg Cassini, 92, the iconic fashion designer of Russian heritage who outfitted First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and also designed costumes for Broadway, March 17 on Long Island.

Joseph Bernard, 82, a Broadway actor and longtime acting teacher who founded the Joseph Bernard Acting Studio in Las Vegas, April 3 in New York.

Veronica Marie Griego, 43, a prominent and prolific stage manager and producer in the Philadelphia theatre, April 8, in a car accident in Exton, PA.

Henderson Forsythe, 88, the character actor who won a Tony Award playing the Texas sheriff in Broadway's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, April 17 in Williamsburg, VA.

Susan Browning, 65 the two-time Tony Award nominated actress who created the role of April in the original Company, April 23 after a brief illness.

Jay Presson Allen, the playwright, director and screenwriter whose credits included The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Tru and the film of Cabaret, May 1 of a stroke at her home in Manhattan.

Pietro Garinei, 87, the veteran impresario of Rome’s Teatro Sistina who, with late creative partner Sandro Giovannini, wrote some of the most successful Italian musical comedies, May 9 in a Rome hospital.

Cy Feuer, 95, the legendary Broadway producer and director whose credits, with late partner Ernest H. Martin, included Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, May 17 at home in Manhattan.

Joan Diener, 76, the actress who lustily played Aldonza/Dulcinea in the original Broadway production of Man of La Mancha, May 13 of cancer in Manhattan.

Roger Kachel, 44, an actor who spent more than a decade playing various roles in Cats, April 5 in Florida.

Leon Pownall, 63, an actor, director and writer who spent 14 seasons at the Stratford Festival in Canada, June 2 after a battle with cancer.

Martine Bartlett, 81, a Broadway, movie and TV actress who played the mother in the TV movie "Sybil," April 5 in Tempe, Arizona.

Richard Warren Pugh, 55, an original and long-serving member of Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera, June 9 from complications from diabetes.

Howard Rosenstone, 68, the theatrical literary agent who represented major American playwrights and songwriters including David Mamet, Wallace Shawn, William Finn and Donald Margulies, June 7 of pulmonary failure at his home in Manhattan.

Julian Slade, 76, the composer and co-writer of the surprise 1950s hit British musical, Salad Days, June 17 of cancer.

Lloyd Richards, 87, the groundbreaking, Tony Award-winning, African-American director who shepherding the work of black playwrights Lorraine Hansberry and August Wilson and served as the artistic director of the National Playwrights Conference — the O'Neill Center's founding program — for 32 years, June 29.

Arthur Lewis, 89, the Brooklyn-born producer who found his greatest success on the London stage with the West End productions of the Feuer and Martin hits Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed..., June 30.

Benjamin Hendrickson, 55, the actor who played detective Hal Munson on TV's "As the World Turns" for many years, and worked in theatre in New York City, July, in his Long Island home of a suicide.

June Allyson, 88, the wholesome, sweet and utterly apple pie star of a series of popular MGM movie musicals in 1940s, July 8 at her home in Ojai, California.

Barnard Hughes, 90, the warm, humane Tony Award-winning actor who starred in Da on Broadway and began his professional career in 1934, July 11 after a brief illness, at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Carrie Nye, 69, the seductive Mississippi-born actress who found an artistic home at Massachusetts' Williamstown Theatre Festival, July 12 of lung cancer at her home in Manhattan.

Red Buttons, 87, the elfin Borscht Belt comedian whose talent found outlets on Broadway and in television, film and nightclubs, July 13 at his home in Los Angeles.

Harold Scott, 70, an award-winning actor, producer and director who had roles in several significant Off-Broadway and Broadway plays in the late '50s and '60s, and thereafter went on to a successful directorial career, July 16 at his home in Newark, NJ.

Henry Hewes, 89, the longtime theatre critic at The Saturday Review who championed regional theatre and founded the American Theater Critics Association, July 18 at his home in Manhattan on July 18.

Mako, 72, the Japanese actor who was Tony Award nominated for playing the Reciter in the original Broadway production of Pacific Overtures, July 21 at his home in Somis, in Ventura County, California.

Bret Adams, 76, a talent and literary agent who represented Judy Kaye, Phylicia Rashad, Christine Ebersole, Kathleen Marshall and Kathy Bates, among others, July 25 in a Manhattan hospital following a stroke.

Alvin Cooperman, 83, a producer and theatre booker who worked for the Shubert Organization, in a varied entertainment career, Aug. 13 in Manhattan.

Lawrence J. Sacharow, 68, the director of the theatre program at Fordham University who was instrumental in ushering the mid-1990s revival of Edward Albee with his 1994 New York staging of Three Tall Women, Aug. 14 at New York Hospital.

Rudi Stern, 69, who manipulated light and neon to create theatrical environments for everyone from Joseph Chaikin to Timothy Leary to the Doors, Aug. 15 of lung cancer, in Cadiz, Spain.

Rupert Murray, 55, a producer, and the lighting designer of the international theatrical dance sensation, Riverdance, Aug. 17 after a battle with cancer, in Dublin, Ireland.

Robert D. Mitchell, 77, a scenic, costume and lighting designer for Broadway, ballet and rock concerts who was the first American to design a classical play in the ancient theatre of Epidaurus in Greece, Aug. 18, at Saint Vincent's Hospital in New York City.

Lovette George, 44, the New York actress who starred in Off-Broadway's The Musical of Musicals, and Lincoln Center Theater's Carousel, A New Brain and Marie Christine, Sept. 6.

Eddie Weston, 81, who danced in seven Broadway musicals and long served as a western regional executive for Actors' Equity, Sept. 6 in Los Angeles.

Robert Earl Jones, 96, the Broadway, Off-Broadway and film actor whose son is actor James Earl Jones, Sept. 7 at the Lillian Booth Actors' Home in New Jersey.

Pat Corley, 76, the gravel-voiced character actor who was the barkeep Phil on TV's "Murphy Brown," Sept. 11 of congestive heart failure Sept. 11.

Joseph Hayes, 88, a playwright, novelist and producer who won the 1955 Tony Award for Best Play for his suspenseful melodrama The Desperate Hours, Sept. 11 in St. Augustine, FL.

Edwin C. Owens, 64, a veteran actor whose career spanned almost 50 years, Sept. 16 in Fort Worth, TX, while on the road in the national tour of On Golden Pond.

Elizabeth Allen, 77, the stage, film, television actress and model who played a feisty, love-hungry tourist in the Broadway musical Do I Hear a Waltz?, Sept. 19 at Wingate Nursing Home in Fishkill, NY.

Patrick Quinn, 55, the Broadway actor and Actors' Equity official who had been newly appointed executive director of the union, Sept. 24 at his country home.

G. Eric Muratalla, 35, a company manager who worked on the Tony Award-winning shows Art and A Doll's House, Sept. 24.

George Balzer, 91, who took a break from a longtime association with comedian Jack Benny to write the hit Broadway musical Are You With It?, Sept. 28 in Van Nuys, California.

Isabel Bigley, 80, who achieved lasting fame in the annals of Broadway history by playing missionary Sarah Brown in the original production of the musical Guys and Dolls, Sept. 30 in Los Angeles.

Gene Janson, 72, the Chicago stage mainstay with decades of acting experience, collapsed during the Oct. 4 performance of a production of Gore Vidal's The Best Man, dying later at a nearby hospital.

Eve Adamson, 67, the founder of the Jean Cocteau Rep, which served up international classics from a small stage on the Bowery for more than three decades, Oct. 9 in New York.

Jane Wyatt, 95, the stage and film actress who found her greatest success on the small screen's warm-hearted sitcom "Father Knows Best," Oct. 20 at her home in Bel Air, California.

Milton Krantz, 94, the manager for 42 years of Cleveland's Hanna Theater, once a major stop for touring Broadway shows, Oct. 11 at his home in Beachwood, Ohio.

Arthur Hill, 84, who was George to Uta Hagen's Martha in the original production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Oct. 22 in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Arnold Sundgaard, 96, a playwright and librettist whose work appeared on Broadway and in opera halls across the U.S., Oct. 22 at his home in Dallas of congestive heart failure.

Brian Brolly, 70, a longtime associate of British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber who late in life became a Broadway producer, Oct. 28 in London following a heart attack.

Richard Gilman, 83, the writer and educator regarded as one of the greatest American theatre critics of the last half of the 20th century, Oct. 29 of lung cancer in Japan.

Kim Garfield, 72, the press agent who represented big movie stars and small Los Angeles theatre companies, Oct. 31 after complications from surgery.

Richard Ramos, 64, who put in several seasons of work at Minnesota's Guthrie Theatre as actor, director and advisor, Oct. 31 of a heart attack in Sarasota, Florida.

Florence Klotz, 86, a six-time Tony Award-winning costume designer who fashioned the lavish costumes for Follies, Nov. 1 in her Manhattan home of heart failure.

Adrienne Shelly, 40, who gained fame as filmmaker Hal Hartley's early muse, murdered Nov. 1 in her apartment in Greenwich Village.

Marian Grudeff, 79, a Canadian theatre composer who co-wrote the score for the 1965 Broadway musical Baker Street, Nov. 4 from organ failure, in Toronto.

Bob Fennell, 48, the press agent for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows including Wicked, Nov. 12 of liver cancer in Yonkers, NY.

Jack Palance, 87, the career film actor with theatre roots, who played a series of memorable movie villains in the 1950s, Nov. 10 at his house in Montecito, California.

Ruth Brown, 78, the influential and enduring rhythm and blues singer who won a Tony Award for her performance in the hit Broadway revue Black and Blue, Nov. 17 of complications following a heart at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals in Henderson, NV.

Robert Altman, 81, the innovative, experimental and lionized film director of "M*A*S*H," "Nashville" and "The Player" who occasionally worked for the stage, Nov. 21 at a Los Angeles Hospital.

Betty Comden, 89, the award-winning lyricist and librettist who — with writing partner Adolph Green — created such iconic New York musicals as Bells Are Ringing, Wonderful Town and On the Town, Nov. 23 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Susan Raab Simonson, 37, the associate producer at L.A. Theatre Works, the respected Los Angeles-based company that broadcasts live radio enactments of contemporary and classic plays, Nov. 27 of breast cancer, at her parents home in San Anselmo, CA.

Sid Raymond, 97, a character actor who was never at a loss for work over his eight-decade career, Dec. 1 in Aventura, Florida, after suffering a stroke.

Don Snell 57, who performed his one-man show about playwright and actor Noël Coward, A Private Spirit, at theatres across the United States, after a long illness, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Ruth Webb, 88, a talent agent who represented dozens of stars from the worlds of stage, film and television, Dec. 4 after an extended pulmonary illness.

Tim Albrecht, 41, a dancer and choreographer who appeared in Harold Prince's most recent revival of Show Boat, Dec. 9 of a heart attack in Los Angeles on Dec. 9.

Peter Boyle, 71, the film character actor who thrived in the 1970s, and who had a late-career hit with TV's "Everybody Loves Raymond," Dec. 12 at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.

Aviva Crane, 76, a Chicago-area actress who co-founded the city's pre-eminent annual theatre honors, the Joseph Jefferson Awards, after a short illness.

Taliep Pietersen, 56, a successful South African producer and writer of musicals whose Kat and the Kings was seen on Broadway, Dec. 16, killed in a robbery at his home in Athlone township outside Cape Town.

John Bishop, 77, a member of Circle Repertory Company and author of dramas such as The Trip Back Home and The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, of cancer, at a clinic in Bad Heyburn, Germany.

(Robert Simonson is's senior correspondent. He can be reached at

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