Wynn Handman

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Wynn Handman
Wynn Handman Studio photo.jpg
Wynn Handman working in his studio on West 54th Street in New York City.
Irwin Leo Handman[1]

(1922-05-19)May 19, 1922
DiedApril 11, 2020(2020-04-11) (aged 97)
New York City, New York, U.S.
OccupationTeacher, director, producer
Years active1944–2020
Spouse(s)Barbara Ann Schlein (1950-2013; her death)
ChildrenLaura Ickes, Liza Handman

Wynn Handman (May 19, 1922 – April 11, 2020) was the Artistic Director of The American Place Theatre, which he co-founded with Sidney Lanier and Michael Tolan in 1963. His role in the theatre was to seek out, encourage, train, and present new and exciting writing and acting talent and to develop and produce new plays by living American writers. In addition, he initiated several Arts Education Programs, such as Literature to Life. His life and the history of The American Place Theatre are the subjects of the 2019 documentary It Takes a Lunatic.

Handman died during the COVID-19 pandemic due to complications brought on by COVID-19.

Early Life[edit]

Handman grew up in the Inwood neighborhood in Upper Manhattan.[2] Handman studied acting at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater in New York City.

Directing career[edit]

Plays he has directed at The American Place Theatre include: Manchild in the Promised Land, which he adapted from the novel by Claude Brown; I Stand Before You Naked by Joyce Carol Oates; Words, No Music by Calvin Trillin; Drinking in America by Eric Bogosian; A Girl’s Guide to Chaos by Cynthia Heimel; Free Speech in America, and Bibliomania by Roger Rosenblatt, with Ron Silver; Coming Through also adapted by Handman; Spokesman written and performed by John Hockenberry; Fly by Joseph Edward; and Dreaming in Cuban and Other Works: Rhythm, Rum, Café con Leche and Nuestros Abuelos by Cristina García and Michael Garcés. Also, he has adapted and directed many of the American Humorists’ Series productions.

Teaching career[edit]

A teacher for over 50 years, in his professional acting classes, Handman trained outstanding actors including Michael Douglas,[3] and Christopher George.[4]

In December 2013, a book by Jeremy Gerard was published entitled Wynn Place Show: A Biased History of the Rollicking Life & Extreme Times of Wynn Handman and the American Place Theatre. A party to honor the book and Handman, at The Players Club in Manhattan, was featured in the New York Times, and included grateful Handman students such as Richard Gere, Frank Langella and John Leguizamo.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Handman was born in New York City, New York, the son of Anna (Kemler), a saleswoman at Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nathan Handman, who ran a printing business. His parents were Jewish emigrants, his father from Minsk, Belarus, and his mother from Płońsk, Poland.[1][6]

Handman was married to political consultant and arts advocate Bobbie Handman, who died November 13, 2013. Their daughter, Laura Handman, is the wife of Harold M. Ickes. Their other daughter, Liza Handman, is the Vice President of Creative at Drury Design Dynamics, a leader in the meetings and events industry.

Handman died on April 11, 2020 in New York City at the age of 97 from COVID-19.[7][8]


Further reading[edit]

  • Gerard, Jeremy. Wynn Place Show: A Biased History of the Rollicking Life & Extreme Times of Wynn Handman and the American Place Theatre. Hanover, NH: Smith & Kraus, 2013. Print.


  1. ^ a b https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/theater/wynn-handman-dead-coronavirus.html
  2. ^ Ryzik, Melena. "Nearly 60 Years and Counting, Working on the Art of Theater", The New York Times, May 20, 2007. "He grew up in Inwood, on a dirt road, fishing for crabs off a dock on Dyckman Street. “I had a country boyhood in Upper Manhattan,” he said."
  3. ^ Parker, John (2011). Michael Douglas: Acting on Instinct. Headline (Hachette Book Group). ISBN 9780755362868. Retrieved 1 December 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Cumberland Evening Times, "TV Cameos: Chris George, Career Rolls Into High Gear On Video", by Ed Misurell, p. 9, 12 November 1966.
  5. ^ Healy, Patrick (25 December 2013). "Apples for a Seasoned Acting Teacher". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 January 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ https://t2conline.com/so-long-sweet-prince-acting-coach-wynn-handman-passes-on/
  7. ^ Wynn Handman, co-founder of the American Place Theatre, dies at 97
  8. ^ Evans, Greg (2020-04-13). "Wynn Handman Dies Of COVID-19: American Place Theatre Co-Founder, Teacher Of Future Stars Was 97". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-04-17.
  9. ^ The Townsend Harris Medalists Retrieved March 6, 2021
  10. ^ The Lucille Lortel Awards 1986 - 2000 Nominees and Recipients Retrieved March 6, 2021
  11. ^ Rosetta LeNoire Award List at Actors' Equity.org Retrieved March 6, 2021
  12. ^ The Working Theater Annual Awards Ceremony Retrieved March 6, 2021
  13. ^ [ https://www.obieawards.com/events/1990s/year-99/ ObieAwrds.com] Retrieved March 6, 2021

External links[edit]