A smiling fighter of a Producer says farewell.

Kathleen RaittI 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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  • Sorry, Ken. You lost one of your touchstone
    people. The world feels a little odd when
    that happens. Fortunately, you seem to have
    that same passion in you that kept Ms. Raitt
    going. Congratulations that you knew her.
    And sympathy that she’s gone. She probably knew
    that you felt like this about her. Good!

  • Ken, that was poignant and simply beautiful. She sounded like an amazing woman and you seem to be a sweet part of her great legacy. Your blogs are always positive, uplifting and full of energy. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt goodbye.

  • Paula says:

    Thank you for telling us about Kathleen Raitt.
    I always admired John Raitt. Now that I’ve learned about Ms. Raitt, I can see that they shared a
    special relationship. It’s wonderful that they both gave so much to the “world of music”. It is a great loss for you and all of the entertainment
    world. I feel your sorrow. Please extend my
    sympathy to Kathleen’s family.

  • Bruce Whitacre says:

    Thank you, Ken, for your moving tribute to one of our most gracious and accomplished producers. Kathleen really was a gem, and was so very gracious and generous. Her support for artists and their vision was unflagging, and she made the business side of theatre feel like a place as magical as the stage itself. We will miss her very much.

  • Stuart Green says:

    My condolences – I thank you for sharing and am glad that you got to spend some quality time with her over the years.

  • Caitlin O'Heaney says:


    What a beautiful tribute. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting or working with Kathleen, your poetic words, filled with love and admiration,seemed to put her energy onto the page. Thank you for sharing and I send you my condolences on the loss of your friend.

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