David Merrick

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David Merrick (November 27, 1911 – April 25, 2000) was a prolific Tony Award-winning American theatrical producer.

Life and career[edit]

Born David Lee Margulois to Jewish parents in St. Louis, Missouri, Merrick graduated from Washington University, then studied law at the Jesuit-run Saint Louis University School of Law. In 1940 he left his legal career to become a successful theatrical producer. He often was his own competition for the Tony Award, and he frequently won multiple nominations and/or wins in the same season.

Merrick was known for his love of publicity stunts. In 1949, his comedy Clutterbuck was running out of steam, but along with discount tickets, he paged hotel bars and restaurants around Manhattan during cocktail hour for a "fictive Mr. Clutterbuck" as a way of generating name recognition for his production, and it helped his show keep alive for another few months.[1] Another famous stunt promoted the poorly-reviewed 1961 musical Subways Are For Sleeping. Merrick found seven New Yorkers who had the same names as the city's seven leading theater critics: Howard Taubman, Walter Kerr, John Chapman, John McClain, Richard Watts, Jr., Norman Nadel, and Robert Coleman. Merrick invited the seven namesakes to the musical and secured their permission to use their names and pictures in an advertisement alongside quotes such as "One of the few great musical comedies of the last thirty years" and "A fabulous musical. I love it." Merrick then prepared a newspaper ad featuring the namesakes' rave reviews under the heading 7 Out of 7 Are Ecstatically Unanimous About Subways Are For Sleeping. Only one newspaper, the New York Herald Tribune, published the ad, and only in one edition; however, the publicity that the ad garnered helped the musical remain open for 205 performances (almost six months). Merrick later revealed that he had conceived the ad several years previously, but had not been able to execute it until Brooks Atkinson retired as the New York Times theater critic in 1960 since he could not find anyone with the same name.[2] Merrick joined The Lambs in 1950.

Health and death[edit]

Merrick worked with talented director Gower Champion who directed Merrick's production of 42nd Street. On the morning of August 25, 1980, Champion died of a rare blood cancer, and Merrick announced the news himself to the audience at the opening-night curtain call.

Merrick suffered a stroke in 1983, after which he spent most of his time in a wheelchair. He established the David Merrick Arts Foundation in 1998 to support the development of American musicals.

Personal life[edit]

Merrick was married six times, to Lenore Beck, Jeanne Gibson, Etan Aronson (twice), Karen Prunczik, and Natalie Lloyd. He was married to Lloyd at the time of his death in London; all of his previous marriages had ended in divorce. He had two daughters according to Peter Filichia, writing in the Newark Star-Ledger on April 27, 2000.

Honours[edit]

In 2001 Merrick was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.[3]

Biography[edit]

An unauthorized biography by Howard Kissel is titled David Merrick: The Abominable Showman (ISBN 978-1-55783-361-7).

Quotes[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1986 Tony Award for Best Reproduction (Loot, nominee)
  • 1986 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival (Loot, nominee)
  • 1981 Tony Award for Best Musical (42nd Street, winner)
  • 1981 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical (42nd Street, nominee)
  • 1976 Tony Award for Best Play (Travesties, winner)
  • 1976 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival (Very Good Eddie, nominee)
  • 1975 Tony Award for Best Musical (Mack & Mabel, nominee)
  • 1973 Tony Award for Best Musical (Sugar, nominee)
  • 1972 Tony Award for Best Play (Vivat! Vivat Regina!, nominee)
  • 1971 Tony Award for Best Play (The Philanthropist, nominee)
  • 1970 Tony Award for Best Play (Child's Play, nominee)
  • 1969 Tony Award for Best Musical (Promises, Promises, nominee)
  • 1968 Tony Award for Best Musical (How Now, Dow Jones, nominee)
  • 1968 Tony Award for Best Musical (The Happy Time, nominee)
  • 1968 Tony Award for Best Play (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, winner)
  • 1968 Tony Award for Best Producer of a Play (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, winner)
  • 1968 Special Tony Award (winner)
  • 1967 Tony Award for Best Musical (I Do! I Do!, nominee)
  • 1966 Tony Award for Best Play (Marat/Sade, winner)
  • 1966 Tony Award for Best Play (Philadelphia, Here I Come!, nominee)
  • 1966 Tony Award for Best Play (Inadmissible Evidence, nominee)
  • 1965 Tony Award for Best Musical (Oh, What a Lovely War!, nominee)
  • 1965 Tony Award for Best Producer of a Musical (The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd, nominee)
  • 1964 Tony Award for Best Musical (Hello, Dolly!, winner)
  • 1964 Tony Award for Best Play (Luther, winner)
  • 1964 Tony Award for Best Producer (Musical) (Hello, Dolly!, winner)
  • 1963 Tony Award for Best Musical (Stop the World - I Want to Get Off, nominee)
  • 1963 Tony Award for Best Musical (Oliver!, nominee)
  • 1963 Tony Award for Best Producer of a Musical (Oliver!, nominee)
  • 1962 Tony Award for Best Musical (Carnival, nominee)
  • 1962 Tony Award for Best Producer of a Musical (Carnival, nominee)
  • 1962 Tony Award for Best Producer of a Play (Ross, nominee)
  • 1961 Tony Award for Best Musical (Irma La Douce, nominee)
  • 1961 Tony Award for Best Musical (Do Re Mi, nominee)
  • 1961 Tony Award for Best Play (Becket, winner)
  • 1961 Special Tony Award (winner)
  • 1960 Tony Award for Best Musical (Take Me Along, nominee)
  • 1959 Tony Award for Best Musical (La Plume de Ma Tante, nominee)
  • 1959 Tony Award for Best Play (Epitaph for George Dillon, nominee)
  • 1958 Tony Award for Best Musical (Jamaica, nominee)
  • 1958 Tony Award for Best Play (Look Back in Anger, nominee)
  • 1958 Tony Award for Best Play (Romanoff and Juliet, nominee)

Additional notable productions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "David Merrick, 88, Showman Who Ruled Broadway, Dies". The New York Times. April 27, 2000. Retrieved 2010-03-04. "...Mr. Merrick kept it alive for six months with discount tickets and a publicity stunt: ..." 
  2. ^ Museum of Hoaxes.com; "A 4-Star Smash? Says Who?", Miami News, January 6, 1962, p4A
  3. ^ St. Louis Walk of Fame. "St. Louis Walk of Fame Inductees". stlouiswalkoffame.org. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 

External links[edit]