Just in case the Tonys don’t do this . . .

90% of the people reading this blog today won’t be doing it from work.  Because you’ve got the day off!  Woo-hoo!  Happy Memorial Day, right?

Now that we’re done celebrating the start of summer, it’s important to remember what this day is all about.

Today we honor all those men and women who had a lot more courage than I could ever have and who sacrificed themselves so that the rest of us could have the freedom to do things like . . . well . . . like theater.

Yep, this crazy thing we produce and write and often take for granted is a freedom and a luxury that not everyone in the world has.  We’re lucky, and it’s important to remember that.

So between BBQs and traffic jams, take a second of silence to say thank you.

Even though the intention of Memorial Day is to honor those who have fought and fallen for us, I always take a moment to remember those who have made other contributions to the world, who have also passed on.

And since there is a brewing controversy over whether or not the Tonys will include an “in memoriam” section on the telecast (read about it and sign the petition here), I thought I’d take this blog to list the people from our world who we lost this past year.  (Of course, I’d love for it to be included on the telecast, but I also know that there’s only so much time, and what people really want to see is more production numbers, so those can’t be cut . . . could something else?)

You can add to the list in the comments section.

Wishing you all a peaceful holiday.  (The usually scheduled Monday Podcast will appear on tomorrow’s blog.)

Lauren Bacall – actress
Polly Bergen – actress
BJ Crosby – actress
Margaret Croyden – critic
Steve Curry – actor
Jack Dabdoub – actor
Ruby Dee – actress
Angelo Del Rossi – former executive producer of Paper Mill
Richard A. Dysart – actor
Luigi Faccuito – dance teacher
Gerry Goffin – writer
Lesley Gore – writer
Jay H. Harris – producer
Don Harron – actor
Edward Herrmann – actor
Geoffrey Holder – director and costume designer
Charles Keating – actor
Brian Macdonald – choreographer
Victoria Mallory – actress
Michael McCarty – actor
Geraldine McEwan – actress
George Morrison – acting teacher
Barry Moss – casting director
Rosemary Murphy – actress
Peter Neufeld – producer and general manager
Mike Nichols – director
Leonard Nimoy – actor
Luise Rainer – actress
Joan Rivers – actress
Mary Rodgers – composer
Donald Saddler – choreographer
Gene Saks – director
Herb Schapiro – writer
Marian Seldes – actress
Arthur Shafman – producer
Elaine Stritch – actress
Jerry Tallmer – critic, founder of Obies
Meshach Taylor – actor
Andrea Testani Gordon – stage manager
Stuart Vaughan – director
Betsy von Fursternberg – actress
Eli Wallach – actor
Robin Williams – actor
Elizabeth Wilson – actress
Julie Wilson – actress
Sandy Wilson – composer

Should the Tonys include an “in memoriam” tribute on the telecast?  Let me and them know what you think below.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Jan Wasserman says:

    Yes, as long as they include everyone.

  • Kathy Hochberg says:

    Absolutely, yes

  • Ilene Argento says:

    Yes, absolutely is should be included. Perhaps they could eliminate the usually dull speech by the big shot from the Tony committee, and reduce that to an on-screen text or add it to the opening number some how? I agree, most people watch the Tony’s for the production numbers – and that’s what helps the industry! I think they should also include snippets from the plays and the tech awards!

  • Chris Costa says:

    i think they should definitely include it during the telecast. It’s important to many people in the community. If I was a children’s drama/theatre teacher, I would actually have my kids watch the Tony’s and have each of them do a report on one of them. I even find myself doing some research to find out more about the artists I may not have known about. So, yes, include it!

  • Jeremy Terry says:

    While I always enjoy the in memoriam section, it is very time consuming and can take away from the already dwindling numbers of awards, honors, and performances that get to be televised. Perhaps if it is included they should take a moment of silence with a rolling list of names, instead of the usual format of showing each individual.

  • Tom Gavin says:

    The In Memorium is a final thanks to reward all those that were a part of the Theater during their lifetime, and made the Tony awards possible and important to us. We must honor that.

  • Craig Rhyne says:

    Add to that list Anne Meara.

  • Ben Laskowitz says:

    The Tony Award emcee ‘shtick’ should be cut by 5-10 minutes to allow for this important piece. As entertaining as the emcee’s are, memorializing those that we lost is crucial to maintaining continuity from past to present.

  • Howard Levitsky says:

    Of course the In Memoriam should be included. Why don’t they cut all the inane babble the presenters do? Presenters are uncomfortable with the jokes because they are usually Seriously Not Funny and they are insincere with the semi-serious bits because they feel like the equivalent of the required lessons at the end of Afterschool Specials.

  • Ray Quirolgico says:

    Yes, of course they should do this…and I would cry like a baby the way I do when the Oscars do this!

  • Solange De Santis says:

    Yes, yes, yes! Look at that list – the most accomplished of the profession. How much time does it really take? Two-three minutes? It’s a last tribute and well deserved. Cut some of the unfunny host jokes/numbers.

  • R. Scott Williams says:

    Jayne Meadows (Allen)

  • Christa deSanti says:

    I thinks it’s important to include an “in memoriam”. These are people who have dedicated their lives to the arts. As we all know, not an easy road to travel. Furthermore, I really hope their will do a special (pantless) tribute to Elaine Stritch.

  • Paul Sprecher says:

    Please add to the list PJ Paparelli, Artistic Director, American Theater Company in Chicago. Passed away May 2015. Also, actress, Molly Gylnn and actor, Bernie Yvon both in the Chicago theatre community passed away in September 2014.

  • Patricia Shenofsky says:

    Yes, they absolutely should include an “in memoriam” .Thank you for compiling such a complete list.

  • The Tony’s should absolutely include the In Memoriam during the telecast, and it must include my husband QUINN M. BASS who passed away suddenly on Dec 30th at age 40. Quinn Starred in Broadway’s SWING! and went on to tour in the National and Regional Productions as well as many other Broadway Spectaculars. He was an amazing human being and a phenomenal Actor, Dancer, and Choreographer. May he and all the others be remembered for the joy and brilliance they brought to audiences around the world and for enriching our lives. We are better because of them. Rest In Peace!

  • Sarah Polen says:

    Ken, Thank You So Much for listing BARRY MOSS. He was a Dear Friend of Mine and a PROLIFIC CASTING DIRECTOR. We LOST so many this year, Ken. The Suggestion of Scrolling the Names w/out the photo clip would hit the NERVE and the MEMORY, in deference to TIME. Whatever it takes by the Artistic Team to give us that INSTANT EMOTIONAL MEMORY and Internally FEEL Such Gratitude to These One-of-a-Kind Theatre Artists! This is A MUST for the TONY Telecast. Thank You for Your Unstoppable Devotion to Theatre, Ken, and for Always Asking US to SPEAK! Sincerely, Sarah Polen, AEA-SAG-AFTRA

  • Barbara Beckley says:

    Wow. Just…wow. Thanks for a great post, Ken.

  • Robert Hawk says:

    Such crass disrespect if they don’t include it. Anne Meara should be added, of course. And for those of us who are of a certain vintage, Vivian Nathan.

  • Felicia says:

    Yes, absolutely.

  • Diane Duncan says:

    Yes, it would be very important to list them during the Tonys. FYI, “Ron” Edward Feiner passed on May 10, 2015.

  • Nancy Sharpe says:

    YES !

  • Kenneth Talberth says:

    Absolutely, positively yes! As well as all the many categories that have been relegated to the non-broadcast portion of the evening. An insult and for what? To include performances from non-nominees or, as was the case last year, shows that had not yet opened? Sacrilege! It was always the case that a big perk and an honor of a show being nominated was to be represented on the Tony broadcast. Clearly nominations mean little anymore and the importance of showing respect and appreciation for theatre professionals who contributed so much to our cultural lives and who are now gone takes a backseat to presumed ratings enhancement, THANK YOU for posting these names.

  • Jared says:

    I agree with everyone else. The Tonys should absolutely include the In Memorium segment in the broadcast; the fact that it’s even up for debate is disturbing enough. Cut some of the banter between awards, maybe limit how much time the host gets at the top of the show, but do something to allow this important segment to be shown on the air. It is an incredibly important way to remember the great artists who have paved the way and made the current theatrical scene possible.

    Also, maybe I just have rose colored glasses on, but it seems to be that 10 years ago they somehow had time for every nominated show to perform, the majority of acceptance speeches to be broadcast, and time for host banter and presenter silliness. I’m not sure I understand why this is suddenly an issue.

  • Randy Zeese says:

    You can never go wrong by doing the right thing, and showing respect with a final brief tribute to these artists IS the right thing to do!
    The Tony telecast producers struggle to make an emotional connection with today’s distracted audience…in this brief tribute, a common bond is established! Just do it!

  • Cathie says:


  • Thomas Heath says:

    I believe it pays honor and respect to those that went before us that helped to create stories for the stage.

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