Leonard Soloway Dies: Prolific Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer Was 93
Leonard Soloway, whose six-decade career as a stage general manager and producer included 59 Broadway shows that won more than 40 Tony Awards, died Saturday in Palm Springs, California. He was 93.
His death was announced on Facebook by his nephew Jeffrey Lesser. “He was a huge presence in my life and so many others,” Lesser wrote. “With him goes an era of old Broadway that is dying out. He lived an amazing and full life and brought so many of us along for the ride.”
Soloway, whose life and career was chronicled in the 2019 documentary Leonard Soloway’s Broadway, had a hand in dozens of Broadway’s most notable productions since the 1960s, from his job as house or general manager for 1961’s How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, 1967’s one-woman show Marlene Dietrich, the 1976 revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? starring Colleen Dewhurst and Ben Gazzara and up through his production of 2011’s High starring Kathleen Turner.
In a six-year span in the 1990s alone, he produced Laughter on the 23rd Floor (1993), The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice (1994), The Beauty Queen of Leenane (1998) and Dame Edna: The Royal Tour (1999).
“He was equally as entertaining as any performer that he ever worked with during his 70 year career,” said Jeff Wolk, executive producer of Leonard Soloway’s Broadway, in a Facebook post. “Myself along with a dedicated crew of film folks spent 4 years following Leonard, documenting his life, and last production. He allowed us, (and our film audience) to get a front row seat to what goes on behind the curtain!”
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Soloway began performing at the Cleveland Play House locally in the mid-1940s before moving to New York City and, in 1947, taking his first New York job at the Anta Theatre as a production assistant. He was the theater manager at the Lunt Fontaine Theatre by 1958 when Elaine Stritch starred in Goldilocks, and in 1966 produced Hall Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight! at the Longacre.
In 1977, Soloway produced Michael Cristofer’s Tony- and Pulitzer-winning The Shadow Box, and in 1988 was the general manager of the hit Jerome Robbins Broadway starring Jason Alexander and Charlotte d’Amboise. Three years later he was the general manager of Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers starring Kevin Spacey.
In 1992 and ’93, he was the general manager of two of those seasons’ most attention-getting productions: The Goodbye Girl musical starring Bernadette Peters and Martin Short, and the play Death and the Maiden starring Glenn Close, Richard Dreyfuss and Gene Hackman.
Soloway’s 1999 production of the Dame Edna show won a Special Tony Award, and the same year saw Soloway produce Noel Coward’s Waiting in the Wings starring Lauren Bacall and Rosemary Harris. In 2002, Soloway was the general manager of Broadway’s Our Town starring Paul Newman.
As chronicled in Leonard Soloway’s Broadway, Soloway was still working at 87 when he produced the Off Broadway musical Tappin Thru Life, a stage memoir about and starring dancer/actor Maurice Hines.
Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.