By Robert Simonson
27 Dec 2012
|Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Two of the original cast members of both Oklahoma! and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; the producer who spent half his career getting the musical Chicago to the silver screen; half of the songwriting team that wrote Promises, Promises; the surviving half of a songwriting team that stopped producing musicals more than 60 years ago; one of the founders of the Off-Broadway movement; the author of one of the most anticipated plays of the spring 2012 Broadway season; and an eccentric English acting great who found a way to be odd even in death. Joan Roberts, Celeste Holm, Ben Gazzara, R.G. Armstrong, Marty Richards, Hal David, Richard Adler, Theodore Mann, Nora Ephron and Nicol Williamson, respectively, were among the stage professionals that we lost — or, in the case of Williamson, learned we had lost — in 2012.
Some names you know, some had no international profile. They all made an impact. Whether their contributions were felt 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.
Jack Klugman, 90, who brought a straight-forward, salt-of-the-earth quality to scores of roles over a long career, and became famous as the television embodiment of Neil Simon's Oscar Madison, Dec. 24 at his home in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles.
Charles Durning, 89, a portly character actor who came into his own during his middle years, playing an endless array of comic and dramatic roles in every entertainment medium, Dec. 24 in New York.
Shana Dowdeswell, 23, a Zimbabwe-born actress who matured into young-adult roles (including Denver Center Theatre Company's Two Things You Don't Talk About at Dinner and Off-Broadway's Distracted) after working on stage as a child since age 8, including the title role in Paper Mill Playhouse's The Diary of Anne Frank, on Dec. 12 after being struck by a car in New York City.
Marty Richards, 80, the colorful and high-living stage and film producer who was among the backers of the Academy Award-winning 2002 film of the musical Chicago, and whose Broadway credits included Sweeney Todd, Crimes of the Heart and La Cage aux Folles, on Nov. 26 in New York.
Larry Hagman, 81, the actor son of musical theatre star Mary Martin who shot to international fame by playing villainous oil baron J.R. Ewing on the 1980s TV soap opera "Dallas," on Nov. 23 at Medical City in Dallas.
Valerie Eliot, 86, the widow of poet T.S. Eliot and custodian of his literary estate, whose permission made it possible for Andrew Lloyd Webber to create the musical Cats, on Nov. 9 in London.
Louis Botto, 88, the longtime theatre journalist who worked at Look magazine and Playbill, author of the tome "At This Theatre," and a bottomless well of theatre lore, on Nov. 4 at his home in Cliffside Park, NJ.
Robert Litz, 62, who wrote plays that were produced Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway and elsewhere, on Oct. 10 at his home in Los Angeles.
Ulrich Franzen, 91, the architect who built Houston's Alley Theatre's first permanent home, on Oct. 6 in Santa Fe, NM.
Noel Friedman, 91, a director, actor, teacher and playwright, on Sept. 29.
Herbert Lom, 94, a prolific and versatile film and stage actor who became best known for playing the frustrated boss of Peter Sellers' bumbling Inspector Clouseau in the "Pink Panther" film series, on Sept. 27 at his home in London.
Billy Barnes, 85, the composer and lyricist whose topical material was featured in a series of revues in the 1950s and '60s, on Sept. 24 in his home in Los Angeles.
Manny Fox, 77, a producer and director who worked with a host of American theatre and musical artists and was one of the producers of the hit 1980s musical revue Sophisticated Ladies, on Sept. 23 in Phoenix, AZ.
Dorothy Ateca Carter, 94, an African-American stage actress who starred in three pre-Civil Rights-era plays, including a Broadway adaptation of the novel "Strange Fruit," on Sept. 14 in New York City.
Jaylee Mead, 83, the philanthropist who, with her husband Gilbert, gave millions of dollars to arts organizations throughout the Washington, DC, area, on Sept. 14 in Washington, DC.
Jerome Kilty, 90, an actor who, as director and playwright, created several epistolary dramas, including Dear Liar, on Sept. 9 following a car accident in Weston, CT.Continued...