A smiling fighter of a Producer says farewell.
I first met Kathleen Raitt at a Nederlander Holiday Party back when I was a Company Manager, although I had seen her at several industry events before that. She was easy to spot . . . she had fiery red hair, and a smile even brighter. “Who is that?” I remember asking a peer the first time I spotted her at one conference or another. “Oh, that’s Kathleen Raitt . . . she’s a Producer, a big wig at the Nederlander Organization, and she was married to John Raitt.”
I remember thinking, “I know what he saw in her.”
And when I first introduced myself at that holiday party, I understood it even more.
She loved the theater, of course, like you wouldn’t believe (I used to think that red hair of hers got its color from the incredible passion she had for Broadway). And what was awesome was for as many years as she had been in this slap-you-around business, she still had the positivity of a kid that just got off the bus from Indiana.
Years later, we were having lunch and, with that smile on her face, she told me of two of her biggest fights. One, with an illness. It was serious, she said. Very. And there was a time when she wasn’t sure she’d make it. But she smiled and fought her way through, and there she was sitting and having lunch with me. “Cheers,” we both said.
Then she told me how she was fighting to get her last show up on its feet. She had been working on Bonnie & Clyde and it had been a struggle. She was worried about the last chunk of money. But she was determined to get to that opening night. And she smiled and said she’d find a way. And she did.
We lost Kathleen over the weekend. And in a business filled with a lot of folks who don’t smile enough, I can’t help but feel we’re like a marquee with one of our bulbs burnt out.
We’ll miss you, Kathleen. We’ll miss you. But I promise to try and keep on smilin’ and fightin’ every single day, just the way you’d want me to.
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