Born June 27, 1930, in New York City, Mr. Berlind’s first career was as a songwriter, although he failed to achieve the monumental success he would later have as one of Broadway’s most prolific producers.
"When it got very hungry out there, I had to go to work," he told Playbill in 2005 about his decision to forgo songwriting. "So I went down to Wall Street. I had never had an economics course in college, and I had 26 or 28 interviews before anyone would hire me. But I finally got a job. And I did very well." On Wall Street, Berlind co-founded a major brokerage firm—Carter, Berlind & Weill—and was committed to the world of high finance. But in 1975, after a plane crash killed his wife and three of their four children, he decided to give the theatre world another try, moving from Wall Street to Broadway.
His first outing as a Broadway producer was in 1976 with the Richard Rodgers musical Rex, which managed only 48 performances at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Mr. Berlind subsequently produced Music Is, The Merchant, Diversions and Delights, The 1940’s Radio Hour, The Lady from Dubuque, and Passione before scoring his first major Broadway success: the original 1980 production of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, which won five Tony Awards, including Best Play, and ran nearly 1,200 performances.
During the next four decades, Mr. Berlind would win 24 additional Tony Awards as a member of the producing team; in fact, there were several seasons when he won two Tonys: 2017 (Best Musical for Dear Evan Hansen and Best Revival of a Musical for Hello, Dolly!), 2015 (Best Play for The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time and Best Revival of a Play for Skylight), 2012 (Best Play for Clybourne Park and Best Revival of a Play for Death of a Salesman), 2011 (Best Musical for The Book of Mormon and Best Play for War Horse), and 2000 (Best Play for Copenhagen and Best Revival of a Musical for Kiss Me, Kate).
Mr. Berlind also won Tonys for Nine, The Real Thing, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, City of Angels, Passion, Proof, Doubt, and The History Boys, as well as the revivals of Joe Egg, Guys and Dolls, A View From the Bridge (both in 1998 and 2016), A Raisin in the Sun, and Oklahoma!
"It's strictly a gut instinct," Berlind told Playbill in 2005 when asked how he chose the plays he produces. "I can fall in love with a play or a musical because it has an emotional connection, or because it's intellectually challenging, or because I'm laughing so hard I can't get off the floor. Then I have to consider the economic implications of doing the show."
In 2011, Mr. Berlind was honored by the New Dramatists. "A great producer is a playwright's best friend, and Roger Berlind is a great producer," then-Artistic Director Todd London said. "You can look down the list of the projects he's supported to see that. They exemplify taste, intelligence, and a love of theatre. More, though, look down the list of the artists he's supported. That's the true mark of a producer—his relationships. And that's the true mark of Mr. Berlind: real partnerships with remarkable artists. He belongs in the front of that rare lineage, the gentleman producer."
Mr. Berlind is currently represented on Broadway with the Tony-nominated musical Mean Girls, which opened in April 2018 at the August Wilson Theatre, produced by Berlind Productions, which he ran with son William.
Mr. Berlind, a 2009 inductee into the American Theater Hall of Fame, is survived by his second wife Brook and his aforementioned son William, as well as his brother Alan and three granddaughters.