In an unusual coincidence, David Greene, director of the 1973 film version of the Stephen Schwartz musical Godspell, died on Monday, April 7 of pancreatic cancer in Ojai, California, less than a month after the death of one of the film's 10 cast members, Lynne Thigpen.
"Coming so soon after the loss of our wonderful Lynne, the death of another member of the Godspell family makes me doubly sad," Schwartz told TheaterMania. "David was one of the show's greatest fans and he poured his love for it into his film. He was a witty and talented man with whom I enjoyed working, and I mourn his passing."
Greene was born in Manchester, England. He began his career as an actor, appearing in several Brish films and on stage with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh at the Old Vic. In 1951-52, Greene played Broadway in the Old Vic productions of Antony and Cleopatra and Caesar and Cleopatra. He later worked as a director in Canada, the U.S., and England, settling in Los Angeles in 1970.
A four-time Emmy Award winner, Greene directed several episodes of the TV miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man as well as the first episode of Roots. His credits included the TV movies Friendly Fire, Fatal Vision, and The Betty Ford Story, as well as the theatrical features The Shuttered Room (1967), Sebastian (1968) and Gray Lady Down (1978). In addition to directing the Godspell film, Greene wrote the screenplay and earned a Writers Guild Award nomination for his efforts. Viewed today, Godspell is especially haunting for Greene's inclusion of prominent shots of the newly built World Trade Center in the film's opening moments and in the production number "All for the Best," during which the cast members dance atop one of the center's towers (see photo).
Greene is survived by his wife, Kelly, and by four children from a previous marriage: Lindy Treasurer, Nic Greene, Laurence Donahue-Greene, and Linsel Greene.
Lynne Thigpen died on March 12 of undisclosed causes in Los Angeles. She was 54. The Godspell film was one of her first major credits; she went on to have a noteworthy career in film, television, and theater, winning a 1997 Tony Award for her role in Wendy Wasserstein's An American Daughter.
A memorial service for Thigpen will be held on Monday, April 14 at the Minetta Lane Theatre (18 Minetta Lane) in NYC, beginning at 5pm. Click here to access TheaterMania's obituary for Thigpen.