Jack Kroll, Newsweek’s theater critic since 1967 and a senior editor at the weekly newsmagazine, died Thursday at NYU Medical Center in Manhattan, of complications from colon cancer. He was 74.
Kroll joined Newsweek as associate editor heading the Arts section in 1963, and the following year was named senior editor responsible for all cultural sections. He served in that capacity until 1975, when he became critic at large.
In his 37 years at the magazine Kroll wrote more than 1,200 articles, 19 of them cover stories. His most recent cover feature was a spread on Nicole Kidman on the occasion of her Broadway debut in “The Blue Room.”
Kroll’s honors include a George Jean Nathan award for drama criticism in 1980, a 1981 ASCAP/Deems Taylor award for “Strawberry Fields Forever,” on the death of John Lennon, and a 1983 Page One award for reviews for his cover story “Richard Pryor, Bustin’ Loose.”
Kroll graduated from the City University of New York in 1954. His college career was interrupted by two years of service in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He received an M.A. in English and Comparative Literature in 1955 from Hunter College.
Kroll worked as a copywriter at an ad agency for five years and from 1960 to ’63 was on the staff of Art News.
“Since he first burst onto Newsweek’s pages, Jack embodied the very best of what this magazine has to offer: a dazzling, original voice, a powerful critical mind and a restless curiosity that has kept us on the cutting edge of cultural reporting,” Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker said.
“Jack Kroll possessed one of the liveliest, sharpest, most passionate minds in American journalism,” Newsweek chairman and editor-in-chief Richard M. Smith said.
Kroll is survived by his wife, Joan Engels, a senior photo editor at Newsweek; two children from a previous marriage; and a granddaughter. A memorial service is being planned.