|Born||Jean Michael Saks
November 8, 1921
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||March 28, 2015
East Hampton, New York, U.S.
|Cause of death||Pneumonia|
|Occupation||American actor, stage/film director|
(m. 1950; div. 1980)
(m. 1980; his death 2015)
Gene Saks (Jean Michael Saks; November 8, 1921 – March 28, 2015) was an American stage and film director, and actor. An inductee of the American Theater Hall of Fame, his acting career beginning with a debut on Broadway in 1949. As a director, he was nominated for seven Tony Awards, winning three for his direction of I Love My Wife, Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues. He also directed a number of films during his career. He was married to Bea Arthur, who died in 2009, from 1950 until 1980, and subsequently to Keren Saks, from 1980 to his death in 2015.
Saks was born Jean Michael Saks in New York City, the son of Beatrix (née Lewkowitz) and Morris J. Saks. He studied at Cornell University and trained for acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the German director Erwin Piscator.
Saks made his acting debut on Broadway in South Pacific in 1949. On stage he also appeared in A Shot in the Dark, The Tenth Man and A Thousand Clowns, in the role of Leo "Chuckles The Chipmunk" Herman, which he reprised in the film version. He portrayed Jack Lemmon's brother in the screen adaptation of Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue, and also appeared in Nobody's Fool starring Paul Newman.
Saks shared a long-term professional association with playwright/comedy writer Neil Simon, directing Simon's plays Biloxi Blues, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Jake's Women, Rumors, Lost in Yonkers, Broadway Bound, The Odd Couple and California Suite. His additional Broadway credits included Enter Laughing; Half a Sixpence; Nobody Loves an Albatross; Mame; I Love My Wife; Same Time, Next Year and Rags.
Among Saks' film directing credits were Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Cactus Flower (which won Goldie Hawn the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress), Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Mame, Brighton Beach Memoirs, A Fine Romance, and the 1995 television production of Bye Bye Birdie.
Saks was married to fellow Actors Studio member actress Bea Arthur, from 1950 until 1980. The couple had two sons, by adoption: Matthew (born in 1961), an actor, and Daniel (born in 1964), a set designer. He also had a daughter by his second wife Keren Saks. Saks succumbed to pneumonia at East Hampton residence on March 28, 2015 aged 93.
Awards, nominations and honours
- 1977 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – I Love My Wife
- 1983 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play – Brighton Beach Memoirs
- 1985 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play – Biloxi Blues
- 1965 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – Half a Sixpence
- 1966 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – Mame
- 1969 DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Movie – The Odd Couple
- 1975 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play – Same Time, Next Year
- 1975 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play – Same Time, Next Year
- 1977 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – I Love My Wife
- 1985 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play – Biloxi Blues
- 1987 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play – Broadway Bound
- 1991 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play – Lost in Yonkers
- Gene Saks profile, FilmReference.com, accessed August 23, 2011.
- Gene Saks at the Internet Broadway Database
- Gene Saks at the Internet Movie Database
- Weber, Bruce (March 29, 2015). "Gene Saks, Tony-Winning Director of Neil Simon Hits, Dies at 93". New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
- Gene Saks/Beatrice Arthur at the University of Wisconsin's Actor Studio audio collection
- "On Stage, and Off". New York Times. December 6, 1991.