Jeff Weiss

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Jeff Weiss
Jeffrey Weiss

(1940-04-30)April 30, 1940
DiedSeptember 18, 2022(2022-09-18) (aged 82)
  • Playwright
  • impresario
  • actor
Years active1964–2022
  • Carlos Ricardo Martinez (1982–2022; his death)
RelativesJonathan Taylor Thomas (nephew)

Jeffrey Weiss (April 30, 1940[1] – September 18, 2022[2]) was an American playwright, impresario, and actor, both on Broadway and a theater he ran with partner Ricardo Martinez in the East Village, Manhattan.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Weiss grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with his parents, two brothers, and one sister. His father was a salesman for Pennsylvania cement companies. His brother, Stephen Weiss, currently lives in Florida. His nephew is actor Jonathan Taylor Thomas.[4] Weiss got his taste for performance early. His older sister, Kathleen, who was tasked with babysitting the 4 year old Jeff, would take him by train to Philadelphia where he would perform in clubs. He was fond of theatrics, which of course branded him a problem child. One of his early stunts, when he was 14, was donning his father's trench coat and fedora, taking an unloaded pistol to a local diner, Hamilton Family Diner, and burst in the dining room, demanding everyone take cover as we were being invaded by aliens. The local police were called and they took Jeff home. It's a testament to the times that no one got hysterical and that in fact the only thing his father asked was "Did he use any bad language" and the police assured him that Jeff had been a perfect gentleman.

Weiss's parents enrolled him in several private schools in an effort to control him and was promptly kicked out of all of them. The last one, he staged his own "suicide" charging his fellow students 25 cents to watch him dive off the third floor stair railing, which he managed to do without in fact meeting his demise.

His parents committed him to Rittenhouse, a local home for both incorrigible children and deranged adults. It has since been torn down. A sympathetic doctor recognized his misbehavior as creative talent and gave him money to take the bus to New York City. It was here that he met the love of his life, Ricardo Martinez. It was a pivotal meeting for both of them. Ricardo was putting his head in an oven in a boarding house and Weiss, coming home late, smelled the gas, broke in with some friends and saved Ricardo. It was the beginning of a tumultuous relationship, inspiring Ricardo's (later called Richard) play, Art the Rat, and Weiss's poignant song, "Let Love Pass Me By."


Weiss became involved in theatre, both writing and acting in plays. In New York City, his work was often presented at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club and Caffe Cino.[5] His first performance at La MaMa was in Robert Sealy's Waiting Boy,[6] followed by Sealy's Prevarications,[7] both in 1964. In 1966, Weiss performed in his own play, A Funny Walk Home, at Caffe Cino, read for the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers in Louis Mofsie's Three Mask Dances at La MaMa,[8] and performed in Jean Reavey's Window, directed by Tom O'Horgan, also at La MaMa.[9]

Weiss often collaborated with his partner and producer Ricardo Martinez, an artist from New Mexico.[10][11][12] In 1966, Martinez directed Weiss in Weiss's own one-man show at La MaMa, And That's How the Rent Gets Paid.[13]

In 1967, Weiss performed alongside Mary Boylan in H.M. Koutoukas' When Clowns Play Hamlet, which Koutoukas co-directed with O'Horgan at La MaMa.[14] He directed and performed in a production of Jeff Laffel's There Should be Violins and The Sunday Caller at La MaMa, also in 1967.[15] Martinez directed a production of Weiss's International Wrestling Match: An Old Testament Morality Play in Two Vengeful Acts at La MaMa in January 1969.[16] Weiss performed in Julie Bovasso's Gloria and Esperanza at La MaMa in April 1969.[17]

A play Weiss wrote for children, Locomotive Munch:, was produced at La MaMa in 1972.[18] And That's How the Rent Gets Paid, Part Two, a follow-up to his 1966 show, was produced at La MaMa in April 1973,[19] and his play Pushover was produced at La MaMa in November 1973.[20] In 1979, he continued his work at La MaMa, directing his play Dark Twist [21] and performing And That's How the Rent Gets Paid, Part 3, this time alongside Nicky Paraiso.[22] In 1984, members of The Wooster Group, including Willem Dafoe, Kate Valk, and Ron Vawter, joined Weiss in And That's How the Rent Gets Paid, Part IV (or, The Confessions of Conrad Gerhardt). Later that year, he re-worked the show in Allentown with Paraiso, Dorothy Cantwell and a cast of local actors, and brought that iteration to NYC at the Wooster Group's Performing Garage.[23] Weiss won an Obie Award for his play Hot Keys, presented during the 1991-92 season at Naked Angels.[24] In 2012, Weiss contributed scenes, and appeared (via taped performance), in Peter Schmidt's The Teddy Bear Awards.[25] In 2015, The Kitchen produced a revival of And That's How the Rent Gets Paid.

Weiss also enjoyed a prolific, if late-blossoming, career on the "legitimate" stage. After making his 1967 Broadway debut in Spofford, [26] Weiss did not appear again as a professional performer until 1986, when he appeared as the Ghost/The Player King/Osric in Hamlet, opposite Kevin Kline.[27][28] From that point until his retirement in 2003, Weiss was a fixture on and off-Broadway, appearing in The Front Page (with John Lithgow and Richard Thomas), Macbeth (with Glenda Jackson and Christopher Plummer),[29] Our Town, Mastergate, The Real Inspector Hound and The Fifteen Minute Hamlet, Face Value, Carousel, The Play's the Thing, Present Laughter (with Frank Langella), Ivanov (with Kline), The Iceman Cometh (with Kevin Spacey), The Invention of Love, Mr. Peters' Connections, Flesh and Blood (with Cherry Jones),[30] and Henry IV (with Kline, Ethan Hawke, and Audra McDonald).[31] Weiss was also lauded for his performances in regional productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream,[32] Coriolanus,[33] A Christmas Carol,[34] Harvey,[35] Moliere's The Bungler,[36] and the world premiere of Arthur Miller's Reservation Blues.[37]

Weiss appeared in television episodes of Law & Order and The Equalizer, as well as in films Interstate 84, Mr. Destiny, and Vanilla Sky. [38] He was the solo performer in the 1987 short film, Maestro, by Alex Zamm.[39]

Personal life and death[edit]

Weiss began a relationship with musician and producer, Carlos Ricardo Martinez in 1982.[40][41] Ricardo was the lynchpin in Jeffrey's life, providing both the stability and the motivation to create and perform. They traveled together to Greece (Ricardo was the art director for Holiday Magazine early in their relationship) and Morocco where they partied with the usual suspects: Paul Bowles and William Burroughs among many others in the gay scene in Marrakesh.

After an unusual and unusually prolific career as an actor and playwright on the national and international scene, Jeffrey returned to his birth home in Allentown, PA when Ricardo's Parkinson's became unmanageable. Weiss cared for both his mother until she died and then Ricardo until he died in 2018. While he was in Allentown, Weiss was a mentor to writers, actors, and musicians. He and Ricardo kept as much off the radar as they could, but their light shown too brightly. Weiss is the unlisted author of the hit song, "Is that all there is?" made popular by Peggy Lee.[citation needed]

Weiss died on September 18, 2022, in Macungie, Pennsylvania.[42]


  • Obie Award for Special Citations - Joseph Cino Memorial Award: And That's How The Rent Gets Paid and A Funny Walk Home (1967)[43]
  • Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada (1975)[44]
  • Obie Award for Playwriting: And That's How The Rent Gets Paid, Part Three (1980)[45]
  • Obie Award for Special Citations: Hot Keys (1992)[46]
  • Robert Chesley Award, to honor works by playwrights in the LGBT community (2000)[citation needed]


  1. ^ Gruen, John (February 16, 1967). "The Pop Scene: Talented Actor Choses Poverty to Easy Compromise". New York World Journal Tribune. World Journal Tribune, Inc. Retrieved October 1, 2022.
  2. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (October 18, 2022). "Jeff Weiss, an Unconventional Theatrical Force, Dies at 82". The New York Times.
  3. ^ League, The Broadway. "Jeff Weiss – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  4. ^ "Walnutport Girl, 6, Already A New York Commuter ... Backstage". The Morning Call. Allentown, Pennsylvania. February 26, 1993. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  5. ^ Gehman, Geoff (December 21, 1984). "Playwright Jeff Weiss He Pays The Rent By Mirroring The Chaos, The Unlikely But True Unions, The Deceptions Of Life". The Morning Call. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  6. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Waiting Boy (1964)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  7. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Prevarications (1964)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  8. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Three Mask Dances (1966)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  9. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Window (1966)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  10. ^ Pacheco, Patrick (April 6, 1986). "Off-Off-Broadway's king goes Public". Newsday. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  11. ^ Wright, Damon (May 30, 1993). "THEATER; How Jeff Weiss Found His Pulpit on the Stage". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Gehman, Geoff (December 21, 1984). "Playwright Jeff Weiss: He pays the rent by mirroring the chaos, the unlikely but true unions, the deceptions of life", The Morning Call, p. D1.
  13. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: And That's How the Rent Gets Paid (1966)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  14. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: When Clowns Play Hamlet (1967)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  15. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: There Should Be Violins and The Sunday Caller (1967)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  16. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: International Wrestling Match: A Old Testament Morality Play in Two Vengeful Acts (1969)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  17. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Gloria and Esperanza (1969a)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  18. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Locomotive Munch: (1972)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  19. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: And That's How the Rent Gets Paid, Part Two (1973)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  20. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Pushover (1973)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  21. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Dark Twist (1969)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  22. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: And That's How the Rent Gets Paid, Part 3 (1979)". Accessed May 30, 2018.
  24. ^ "obies | Search Results". Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  25. ^ "Raunchy, funny, bumpy ride to 'Teddy Bear Awards'". The Morning Call. January 6, 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  26. ^ "Spofford".
  27. ^ Gussow, Mel (March 10, 1986). "THEATER: KEVIN KLINE IN 'HAMLET' AT PUBLIC". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  28. ^ Bennetts, Leslie (March 24, 1986). "SUCCESS CATCHES UP WITH WEISS IN 'HAMLET'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  29. ^ "ON THE ROAD WITH 'MACBETH' IS A FIRST AND LAST TRIP FOR JEFF WEISS". The Morning Call. May 8, 1988. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  30. ^ amNY (August 12, 2003). "Jones and Weiss create chemistry in "Flesh and Blood" | amNewYork". Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  31. ^ "Jeff Weiss". IMDb. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  32. ^ Gussow, Mel; Times, Special To the New York (July 16, 1986). "THEATER: 'MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  33. ^ "Coriolanus at McCarter Theatre 1987". Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  34. ^ Klein, Alvin (December 8, 1991). "THEATER; 'A Christmas Carol,' but Not the Same Old Thing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  35. ^ Churnin, Nancy (May 24, 1994). "Theater Review: 'Harvey': Timeless Quality Enriches Work at La Jolla". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  36. ^ "Jeff Weiss theatre profile". Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  37. ^ Rothstein, Mervyn (July 28, 2002). "THEATER; So Tragic, You Have To Laugh". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  38. ^ "Jeff Weiss". IMDb. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  39. ^ Zamm, Alex (November 30, 2012), Maestro, retrieved October 8, 2022
  40. ^ "Remembering Jeff Weiss".
  41. ^ "And That's How the Rent Gets Paid Paying Tribute to Jeff Weiss".
  42. ^ "JEFF WEISS (1940–2022)". Artforum. September 26, 2022. Retrieved September 26, 2022.
  43. ^ "67". Obie Awards. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  44. ^ "Jeffrey George Weiss". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  45. ^ "1980s". Obie Awards. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  46. ^ "92". Obie Awards. Retrieved October 9, 2022.

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