Obituaries

You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown Director Joseph Hardy Dies at 95

The Tony winner had a storied career on and off Broadway.

Joseph Hardy
(© Joseph Marzullo / WENN)

Tony Award-winning director Joseph Hardy died on June 6. He was 95.

Both his aspirations and sense of duty early in life took him far from the cattle ranch in Carlsbad, New Mexico where he was raised. Hardy received a degree in English Literature from New Mexico Highlands University. Like so many of his age cohort, he also served in Korea. Hardy earned an MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama and a Fulbright scholarship to study in Paris, a city he would return to throughout his life.

His early work off-Broadway included Barry Alan Grael and Richard B. Chodosha’s musical adaptation of the Dion Boucicault play The Streets of New York, which ran a remarkable 318 performances at the Maidman Playhouse.

A career breakthrough came in 1967 with the original off-Broadway run of Clark Gesner’s You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. That show ran an incredible 1597 performances at Theatre 80 St. Marks and won Hardy a special Drama Desk Award. It also gave him a chance to join the big leagues.

Unfortunately, his Broadway debut as a director was not an auspicious one: Johnny No-Trump was written by first-time playwright Mary Mercier. The cast featured a young Bernadette Peters in the small role of Bettina, but she was not the box office draw she is today. And although William Goldman in The Season referred to Johnny No-Trump as “the best new American play of the season,” very few people had the opportunity to experience it. It opened and closed on October 8, 1967.

Undaunted, Hardy continued to work, helming a revival of the Harold Arlen-Truman Capote musical House of Flowers off-Broadway and directing Woody Allen in his stage acting debut in Play It Again, Sam. On this return to Broadway, he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play.

He won the category outright the following year, in 1970, for Robert Marasco’s Child’s Play, about the palace intrigue at a Roman Catholic boarding school.

Hardy would go on to helm You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown on Broadway, a revival of Tennessee Williams’s The Night of the Iguana starring Richard Chamberlain and Dorothy McGuire, and the Broadway debut of Lerner and Loewe’s Gigi.

Hardy served as the executive producer of several television soap operas including General Hospital, Ryan’s Hope, and Loving. He introduced the world to Lily Tomlin in her first TV special, Lily (1973) and directed a TV movie adaptation of Great Expectations starring Michael York.

His final off-Broadway credit was the Red Bull Theater revival of August Strindberg’s The Dance of Death starring Daniel Davis and Laila Robins.

Hardy moved into the Actors Fund Home in 2020 and spent his remaining years there. He is survived by his sister, Caroline Rackley of New Mexico and the countless actors, directors, and designers he influenced during his long career.