Ashton Springer, one of Broadway's first major African-American producers, has died at the age of 82, according to The New York Times. The paper reports that the cause was pneumonia.
Active in the 1970s, Springer was responsible for shepherding shows to Broadway including Bubbling Brown Sugar, Eubie!, and Athol Fugard's A Lesson From Aloes, as well as the Pulitzer Prize-winning No Place to Be Somebody, Whoopee!, and the 1976 all-African-American revival of Guys and Dolls.
Born in New York City, Springer attended Ohio State University and later opened a coin-operated laundromat in Queens with his wife, Myra. After meeting the playwright N. Richard Nash, who would become an investor in Springer's laundry business, Springer became Nash's assistant on the 1960 musical Wildcat.
Springer's career as a Broadway producer effectively ended in 1982, when he was ordered by a New York State Supreme Court judge to pay over $100,000 to investors of Eubie! that hadn't been paid back. The production, which ran for a year, never grossed enough to do so.
Springer is survived by his two sons and a sister.