Gerald Schoenfeld has died of a heart attack at the age of 84.
The Broadway legend, who brought dozens of hit shows to New York, including A Chorus Line, Cats, and The Phantom of the Opera, passed away on Tuesday (25Nov08) at his home in Manhattan.
He ran the largest theatre-owning enterprise in the United States as head of both the Shubert Organization, which owns and operates 17 Broadway theatres, and the Shubert Foundation, which helps to support nonprofit theatres and dance companies across the country.
Schoenfeld shared the role for 24 years with Bernard B. Jacobs, who died in 1996. The pair is credited with rescuing New York theatre during its downturn through the 1970s.
The two men were known as “the Shuberts”, although they were not related to the three Shubert brothers who founded the theatre empire early in the 20th century, after acquiring Broadway hits Pippin, Equus and A Chorus Line - winner of a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize in 1975.
Among the musicals they were credited with producing or co-producing are Cats, Godspell, Ain’t Misbehavin', Dreamgirls, Dancin’ and Sunday in the Park With George.
The pair also worked on non-musical plays The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Heidi Chronicles, The Gin Game and Amadeus.
While Schoenfeld is perhaps best known for his work as a producer, he also took a role in Woody Allen's 1984 film Broadway Danny Rose, after the director cast him for a cameo.
But Schoenfeld - who began working with the theatre legends as the company’s primary lawyer in 1957 - focused on maintaining the Shubert Organization's theatres, acquiring new properties and acting as the organization’s public spokesman.
He argued that the theatre was an economic engine for the city and deserved greater help from City Hall, and was instrumental in transforming Times Square from into the family-oriented district it is today.
Schoenfeld is survived by his wife of 58 years, Pat; a brother, Irving; a daughter, Carrie Schoenfeld-Guglielmi; and two grandchildren.