The Tony-winning lyricist, writer and librettist suffered a heart attack on Wednesday, according to a Facebook post by his daughter, Sasha.
Charnin is credited with lyrics and directing seven Broadway shows. HisTony Award was for best original score was shared with composer Charles Strouse for Annie. Charnin also won three Emmys for television variety specials and a Grammy for Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” which sampled lyrics from an Annie song.
The Annie concept premiered in 1976 and opened on Broadway in 1977. The adaptation from the Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, a youngster who goes to live with a wealthy bachelor during the Great Depression, was a big hit, running for 2,327 performances.
Charnin directed the original production and wrote the lyrics for the musical.
Born Martin Jay Charnin on Nov. 24, 1934 in New York, Charnin was the son of an opera singer. He received his BFA from Cooper Union and entered the theatrical world after graduation when he responded to an open call for actors, singers and dancers for West Side Story. He scored a role as one of the original Jets, Big Deal, in the 1957 production, and performed the role 1,000 times in New York and other locations.
While acting was thriving, Charnin was also busy lyric writing He wrote lyrics for cabaret shows and revues, and scored his Broadway lyricist gig with 1963’s Hot Spot, a collaboration with Mary Rodgers, a frequent teammate.
Charnin was still active at his death in directing.
Survivors include his wife, Shelly, children Sasha and Randy and grandchildren Maxwell, Gus and Oliver.
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