Below are some of the people from the theater community who died in 2019, listed alphabetically. Click on any photograph to read the caption.
Update: In the two days since I posted this tribute, two more Broadway luminaries have died.
Danny Aiello, 86, an Oscar-nominated actor for Do the Right Thing, and a veteran of seven Broadway productions in 11 years.
Rene Auberjunois, 79, a 13-time Broadway veteran, nominated for four Tony Awards, and winning for Coco in 1970.
Kaye Ballard, 93, Broadway veteran (The Golden Apple, Carnival, The Pirates of Penzance), familiar face on TV, funny lady. She was impersonating Maurice Chevalier at age 5)
Diahann Carroll, 84, best known as the first black woman to star on a TV series in a non-servant role, “Julia” in 1968, but she was a barrier breaker on Broadway too. Making her Broadway debut in 1954, at the age of 19, she became the first black woman to win the Tony Award for Best Actress for a musical, for “No Strings” in 1962.She returned to Broadway in 1982 to portray Doctor Martha Livingstone in “Agnes of God” and even this was reportedly a first — the first black actress to replace a white actress in a play on Broadway
Carol Channing, 97, 12-time Broadway veteran, three-time Tony winner, who became a Broadway legend thanks to two roles — the gold-digging Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and the matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi in “Hello, Dolly!” a role she originated in 1964 and performed again , in Broadway revivals in 1978 and 1995
Martin Charnin, 84, who began his Broadway career portraying Big Deal in West Side Story, and went on to become a big deal lyricist — especially for the musical Annie.
Jean Cinader, 96, star of the 1940s Broadway comedy Dream Girl
Betty Corwin, 98, creator of the Theater on Film and Tape Archive, at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center
Ann Crumb, 69, four-time Broadway veteran included in “Aspects of Love,” the first American actress chosen by Andrew Lloyd Webber to originate a starring role.
Doris Day, 97, singer, actress, leading star of romantic comedies and Hollywood musicals, including the screen adaptation of Broadway’s “The Pajama Game”
Stanley Donen, 94, film director and choreographer who specialized in movie musicals, including The Pajama Game (see Doris Day), as well as Singin’ in the Rain and On the Town, both of which he co-directed with actor and dancer Gene Kelly. “I wanted to do anything but what Busby Berkeley did.”
Richard Easton, 86, 24-time veteran of Broadway, Tony winning actor for Tom Stoppard’s ” Invention of Love”
Georgia Engel, 70, in the original cast of Hello, Dolly!, best known for the Mary Tyler Moore Show
Alvin Epstein, 93, actor, master of Beckett
Albert Finney, 82, Tony and Oscar nominee, star of Tom Jones, Murder on the Orient Express, and Annie, Dies at 82
“Henry Fonda’s son: That’s how everybody identified me until Easy Rider came along.” Peter Fonda, 79, who was also a Broadway veteran, appearing in the 1961 “Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole”
Laurel Griggs, 13, Broadway veteran of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Once.
Andile Gumbi , 36, longtime Simba in The Lion King on both Broadway and internationally
Valerie Harper, 80, beloved for her character Rhoda Morgenstern, yes, but also eight-time veteran of Broadway – most recently in 2010 in a Tony-nominated role as Tallulah Bankhead in “Looped.” Whatever she played, you felt like you knew her.
Katherine Helmond, 89, best known for her performance as Jessica Tate on the ABC series Soap, a four-time Broadway veteran Tony-nominated for The Great God Brown.
E. Katherine Kerr,82, a stage and screen actress and playwright who won strong reviews for her Off Broadway work and an Obie Award in 1982 for her performance in Caryl Churchill’s “Cloud 9.”
Ron Leibman, 82, a familiar face on TV (Friends) and the movies (Norma Rae) he was also a ten-time Broadway veteran who won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play in 1993 for originating the role of Roy Cohn in Angels in America: Millennium Approaches
Jo Sullivan Loesser, 91, nine-time Broadway veteran who received a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for creating the role of Rosabella in the original Broadway production of The Most Happy Fella, written by her husband, composer Frank Loesser.
William Luce, 88, playwright of Belle of Amherst and Barrymore
Marion McClinton, 65, playwright, actor, and director; premier interpreter of the work of August Wilson
Mark Medoff, 79, Tony-winning playwright of Children of a Lesser God, screenwriter, director and a long-time arts educator. “I can’t teach students to write, to direct, to act, but I can create an atmosphere in which they can teach themselves.”
Jonathan Miller, 85, director and humorist.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison, 88, Nobel Prize winning novelist (Beloved, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, etc) Toni Morrison wasn’t just a literary giant–her work has also inspired memorable stage adaptations, including Lydia Diamond’s The Bluest Eye and Nambi Kelley’s Jazz
Phyllis Newman, 86, an entertainer from the age of 4; veteran of 11 Broadway shows (Tony winner for Subways Are For Sleeping); daughter of a fortune teller and a hypnotist; widow of legendary lyricist Adolph Green; mother of Broadway songwriter Amanda Green and theater critic Adam Green. She was a prodigious fund-raiser on behalf of women in entertainment dealing with illness
Playwright Peter Nichols , 92, best-known for A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.
Jessye Norman, 74, opera singer, major recording artist, and an adventurous performer, collaborating with the dancer, choreographer and director Bill T. Jones in 1999 on a piece called “How! Do! We! Do!” – a mosaic of song, dance, spoken word, and the poems of Frank O’Hara
John O’Neal, 78, playwright, actor, and activist — co-founder of Free Souther Theater, a groundbreaking troupe that brought theater to black audiences in the South during the civil rights era
Michael J. Pollard, 80, best known for TV roles (“The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis”) and his Oscar-nominated part in the movie “Bonnie and Clyde”, was also a 5-time veteran of Broadway, such as the original Hugo Peabody in “Bye, Bye Birdie.”
Luke Perry, 52, after a stroke. Best-known as an actor on “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Riverdale,” he was also a Broadway veteran, performing in the Rocky Horror Show in 2001.
André Previn, 89, celebrated conductor, jazz pianist and Oscar-winning film composer. Mia Farrow was one of his five ex-wives. He was also a Tony nominated composer for the 1969 Broadway musical “Coco”
Harold Prince, 91, inventive and influential producer and director with an astonishing 70-year career, who received 21 Tony Awards — more than twice as many as anybody else in history.
Anna Quayle, 86, who won a Tony for playing four women in “Stop the World — I Want to Get Off,” and bantered with John Lennon in “A Hard Day’s Night.”
Sid Ramin, 100, orchestrator, arranger, composer, Leonard Bernstein’s best friend from age 13. He’s best known for his work on Broadway — including orchestrations for West Side Story, Gypsy, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
Antonia Rey, 92, eight-time Broadway veteran, “with scores of small parts on the stage (including in “A Streetcar Named Desire”), in movies (“Klute”) and on television (“Who’s the Boss?”). But with few leading roles available for Hispanic actresses in the New York theater world of her era, she would not regain the stature she had achieved in Havana. Still, she did not regret leaving.”
John Simon, 94, theater critic
Joseph Sirola, 89, actor and Tony-winning producer.
Bernard Slade, 89, creator of the TV series “The Flying Nun” and “The Partridge Family,” but we know him as the Broadway playwright of “Same Time, Next Year,” a long-running and widely-produced stage comedy.
JoJo Smith, 80, Broadway veteran, dancer and choreographer. Debbie Allen’s teacher, John Travolta’s dance consultant on Saturday Night Fever
Libi Staiger, 91, five-time veteran of Broadway who starred as “Sophie,” Steve Allen’s 1963 musical about the comedian Sophie Tucker, which lasted eight performances. Staiger never performed on Broadway again, but gained fame later in life as one of the eccentric Corlick sisters for a series of commercials for a fast-food chain.
Eric LaJuan Summers, 36, master dancer
Valerie Taylor-Barnes, 88, dancer and founder of the Clive Barnes Awards
Rip Torn, 88, ten-time Broadway veteran starting with Sweet Bird of Youth, familiar face on TV and the movies. His secret as a performer? “Play drama as comedy and comedy as drama”
Gloria Vanderbilt, 95, heiress, model, socialite, designer, entrepreneur, mother of @AndersonCooper….and Broadway veteran: She performed in William Saroyan’s “The Time of Your Life” in 1955.
Allee Willis, 72, pop hit songwriter who also wrote ehe songs for the stage adaptation of “The Color Purple.” She told me how she wrote her first Broadway score: She spent a year listening to cast recordings (esp. Sondheim) & then “looking at words, letting the feeling wash over me, and singing whatever comes out.”