Theater News

From Nora Ephron to Mark O’Donnell, Beloved Faces Lost in 2012

The theater community honors those lost, from writers to lyricists to legendary performers, in 2012.

Marvin Hamlisch, Nora Ephron, Martin Pakledinaz
Marvin Hamlisch, Nora Ephron, Martin Pakledinaz
(© Joseph Marzullo, Tristan Fuge)

Young theater prodigies: Continue practicing–you’ve big shoes to fill.

The theater community lost a number of stage greats in 2012. Below, a list of those who dedicated themselves to a life in theater:

Gore Vidal

The absurdly prolific author, playwright, screenwriter, novelist and critic died at 86 due to complications from pneumonia just as his play The Best Man was being revived on Broadway.

Nora Ephron

The journalist, essayist, novelist, playwright (Love, Loss, and What I Wore, the incoming Lucky Guy with Tom Hanks) and Oscar-nominated screenwriter and movie director died at 71, also from complications related to leukemia.

Joan Roberts

The soprano who originated the iconic role of Laurey in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, died at the age of 95.

Celeste Holme

Another Oklahoma! alum, Holme, who earned an Academy Award for her acting in Gentleman’s Agreement died at 95 in her Manhattan apartment.

Hal David

The famed librettist wrote the lyrics to pop songs, movie scores and musicals, most notably to composer Burt Bacharach’s music in Broadway’s Promises, Promises. He passed at age 91.

Albert Marre

The director of the original Man of La Mancha (and several revivals), died at 86.

Mark O’Donnell

The cartoonist, essayist, playwright, and co-writer of musical theater adaptations of two John Waters films–Hairspray and Cry-Baby, collapsed in his New York apartment building and died unexpectedly at 58.

Shana Dowdeswell

The Zimbabwe-born actress who made her stage debut at age eight in the Off-Broadway play Distracted , was hit by a car in Manhattan, and died tragically at age 23.

Marvin Hamlisch

The award-winning composer of A Chorus Line and many other beloved musicals and films, died unexpectedly at 68, after a brief illness.

Ben Gazzara

The strapping film and stage performer, who originated the role of Brick in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, died at 81.

Joan Stein

The Los Angeles producer who won a Tony Award in 1999 as one of the producers of Side Man, died of cancer at 59.

Lupe Ontiveros

The Emmy Award-winning actress (Desperate Housewives), who portrayed Yolanda Saldivar in the film Selena and was a founding board member of the Latino Theatre Company in downtown L.A., died at 69 of cancer.

Richard Adler

The longtime Broadway composer and lyricist who wrote the musicals The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees with his songwriting partner Jerry Ross (and won Tony Awards for both) died at 90.

Eiko Ishioka

The Oscar-winning Japanese designer whose sets and costumes graced the likes of both Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark and M.Butterfly, died at 73 after a battle with cancer.

Martin Pakledinaz

The Tony Award-winning costume designer, whose work can currently be seen in Anything Goes and Nice Work If You Can Get It, died at 58, also from cancer.

Robert Litz

The playwright, screenwriter, director, and critic who made his off-Broadway debut with Great Divide, died at 62.

Martin Richards

Tony and Oscar Award-winning producer Martin Richards (Chicago), died of cancer at 80.

Dorothy Ateca Carter

The African-American Broadway actress during the civil rights era (Strange Fruit and Take a Giant Step) who later became a schoolteacher, died at 94.

Cris Alexander

The actor and photographer who starred on Broadway in the 1944 Leonard Berstein hit Our Town, died at 92.

Jerome Kilty

The actor and playwright both on and off-Broadway who penned Dear Liar, his adaptation of 40 years (!) of correspondence between George Bernard Shaw his theater-actress lover, died at 90.

Theodore Mann
Tony Award-winning director and producer who championed Eugene O’Neill and was a driving force behind Circle in the Square Theatre and its school, died at 87.

Jack Klugman

A renowned stage and screen actor, Klugman was best known for his performances in The Odd Couple, both on stage and on the hit TV adaptation. He passed this December at age 90.

Charles Durning

The character actor with a resume a mile long broke out on Broadway in That Championship Season and went on to appear in such plays as Gore Vidal’s The Best Man and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the latter of which won him a Tony Award. With over 200 films on his resume, he delivered standout turns in Tootsie and The Hudsucker Proxy. Durning was 89.