Tony Awards To Honor Photographer, Beader And Broadway’s Drycleaner

Tony Awards

A New York Times photographer, a premiere beader of stage costumes and a drycleaning business that’s been removing opening night sweat stains since the days of George M. Cohan will receive this year’s Tony Awards’ Honors for Excellence in the Theatre.

The awards’ Administration Committee announced the recipients today: Culture photographer Sara Krulwich, beader Bessie Nelson and the Ernest Winzer Cleaners. The Honors recognize extraordinary achievement outside the established Tony Award categories.

“This year’s group of Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre award recipients perfectly exemplify the scope of work in our industry,” said Heather Hitchens, President & CEO of the American Theatre Wing, and Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League. “Each one has left such a mark on the Broadway community in such different ways, and we’re proud to be able to honor their contributions.”

Krulwich has been with the Times since 1979, and would eventually become the paper’s first designated culture photographer, assigned to covered dance, opera and cultural news. Though the Times had traditionally used theater photos supplied by producers, Krulwich convinced her editors – and skeptical press agents – to reconsider, and she now shoots more than 100 stage productions a year, according to the Tony committee.

Nelson, in a career reaching back seven decades, “is regarded as one of the premier beading designers in the country,” says the committee. Born in1931, she was 9 years old when an aunt who worked in New York’s garment district taught her the art of beading.

After a move to Hollywood, Nelson worked on such extensively-beaded TV shows as Dynasty, The Carol Burnett Show and The Sonny and Cher Show in collaboration with designer Bob Mackie. She and her former business partner, Stella Ruata, even designed for Michael Jackson, from his socks and beaded jackets to his famous white crystal glove. Nelson has beaded for films and First Ladies and such Broadway shows as Dreamgirls, Wicked, The Lion King and Frozen, to name a small few.

The Winzer business dates to 1908, when Ernest Winzer was “Master Drycleaner and Dyer” to Broadway. Says the Tony committee, “Family folklore has it that Winzer began by handling the costumes worn by Broadway greats like George M. Cohan, Helen Hayes, Laurette Taylor, the Barrymores and Billie Burke. This legacy of providing service worthy of the Great White Way’s brightest and best continues to this day.”

Today, the company is led by Bruce Barish, the third generation of the Steinhorn family operating Ernest Winzer Cleaners, a company that, the Tonys say, “offers a perfect blend of Old World knowledge, new millennium technology and turn of the century graciousness and service worthy of a star. Although Al Steinhorn did not live to see his grandson carry on his legacy, Bruce knows that Grandpa Al is shining over him and his work every day.”

This year’s Tony Awards are set for Sunday, June 10 at 8 PM ET/delayed PT, live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City with Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban hosting.


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