The Broadway theater community pays the highest tribute by dimming the lights of Broadway to honor the memory of legendary producer Martin Richards.
The Broadway community will pay the highest honor to celebrated producer Martin Richards, who passed away yesterday at age 80. The marquees of Broadway theaters in New York will be dimmed in his memory tonight, Tuesday, November 27th, at exactly 7 p.m. for one minute.
Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of The Broadway League, said, “For over 50 years, Marty Richards has been transferring his passion for theatre to the stage. The popularity of his shows has brought many generations to Broadway. He was an admirer of talent, and we were an admirer of his. His love for the arts was matched only by his generosity and philanthropic causes. He will be greatly missed, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Mr. Richards produced such Broadway hits as ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, SWEENEY TODD, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (original and 1st revival), GRAND HOTEL, THE LIFE, WILL ROGERS FOLLIES amongst many others. His shows have won over 40 Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards® as well as numerous Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. In addition, his production of CRIMES OF THE HEART garnered a Pulitzer Prize. Richards was the producer of the original CHICAGO on Broadway and went on to win an Academy Award for producing the film version in 2003. His other films include THE SHINING, BOYS FROM BRAZIL, and FORT APACHE, THE BRONX.
Richards was also a generous philanthropist. He, along with his late wife Mary Lea Johnson Richards, was instrumental in founding Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Meals on Wheels. Richards went on to establish the liver and kidney transplant unit at the NYU Medical Center that bears his wife’s name. Richards also created the New York Center for Children to care for abused children and their families.
Martin Richards was the head of the film and theatrical production company, The Producer Circle, which he founded with his late wife Mary Lea Johnson in 1976. Their first musical, On The Twentieth Century, directed by Harold Prince, won five Tony Awards. Their next, Sweeney Todd, also directed by Mr. Prince, won eight Tony Awards including Best Musical. They co-produced the Pulitzer Prize winning Crimes Of The Heart, Foxfire, for which Jessica Tandy received the Best Actress Tony Award, Grand Hotel, directed and choreographed by Tommy Tune, which won five Tony Awards, and the hit Off Broadway musicals, March Of The Falsettos and Mayor.
Mr. Richards has also co-produced the Obie Award winning Dylan, which starred Rue McClanahan, Bob Fosse’s Chicago, which was nominated for eleven Tonys and won Best Musical in London and Los Angeles, The Norman Conquests, which received the Outer Critics Circle Award, La Cage aux Folles, which won six Tonys, including Best Musical, and The Will Rogers Follies, again with Tommy Tune directing and choreographing, which won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, The Best Of Friends, starring Diana Douglas, which he produced with Michael Douglas, Sally Marr …and her escorts, which starred Joan Rivers, who received a Best Actress Tony Nomination, the Cy Coleman musical The Life, which received Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards for Best Musical, and Sweet Smell Of Success, directed by Nicholas Hytner, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, adapted from the film by John Guare, with music and lyrics by Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnelia.
He also co-produced the Tony Award winning revival of La Cage aux Folles, which starred Gary Beach and Robert Goulet, and was directed by Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, and Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, starring the legendary Chita Rivera, with book by Terrance McNally, directed & choreographed by Graciela Daniele. Mr. Richards’ stage productions have received thirty-six Tony Awards, The Pulitzer Prize, seven Outer Critic Circle Awards, and two New York Drama Critics Awards.
Mr. Richards’ film productions include The Boys From Brazil, which was directed by Franklin Schaffner and starred Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, which starred Jack Nicholson, Fort Apache, The Bronx, which starred Paul Newman, and the musical Chicago, directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall, starring Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta Jones and Richard Gere, which received three Broadcast Critic’s Choice Awards, including Best Picture, three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture, The Producers Guild of America Darryl F. Zanuck Award as Best Producer of 2002, the Directors Guild of America Award for Rob Marshall’s direction, and six Academy Awards, including Best Picture of 2002.
Mr. Richards was a member of The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and served on the Board of Governors of the League of American Theaters and Producers. In 1997, Mayor Giuliani appointed him to a six-year term as a member of The Trust for Cultural Resources of the City of New York. He was also a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Council for Theatre.
Mr. Richards served on the President’s Council for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and is on the Board of Directors of Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS. In 1994, in memory of his wife, he established the Mary Lea Johnson Richards Institute at New York University Medical Center for organ transplantation and research, and in 1995, also in memory of his wife, he co-founded the Children’s Advocacy Center of Manhattan, New York City’s only non-profit center for abused children. For the past eight years he produced the annual Red Ball, one of New York’s premiere charitable events, which benefits both the Institute and the Advocacy Center.
Mr. Richards most recently produced the new musical, Big Maybelle: Soul of the Blues starring Lillias White at The Bay Street Theatre this August.
Marty was the beloved son of the late Sidney and Shirley Klein and is survived by his brother Bruce Klein, his niece Lisa Kirschner and nephew Sean Klein. Other family survivors include Mrs. Elaine Johnson Wold, Diana Johnson Firestone, and J. Seward Johnson, Jr. Mr. Richards was a man of the world and will be greatly missed by many.
Funeral services will be held at Frank Campbell Funeral Chapel at 1076 Madison Avenue. Visitation hours will be Wednesday, November 28 from 7-9pm and Thursday, November 29 from 2-4pm and 7-9pm.
Donations may be made in Richards’ name to either the New York Center for Children or the Mary Lea Johnson Richards Research Institute.