Richard J. Sinnott, last of Boston’s city censors, died of coronary artery disease April 30 at his Hyde Park neighborhood home. He was 76.
He was city censor 1955 to 1982, when the position was retired. In that post, he was responsible for reviewing all pics, stage productions, burlesque acts, rock concerts and more — any performance that came to Boston and needed to pass city standards. If they didn’t, they’d receive the infamous designation of having been banned in Boston — something that actually only happened about 10 times during his tenure.
Former AP reporter became Mayor John Collins’ press secretary and served concurrently as licensing chief, a job he continued in after Collins’ eight years in office. He drew national attention when he threatened to ban Edward Albee’s new play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” in 1963 after Sinnott objected to some passages. He recalled that Albee agreed to change some wording including a “blasphemous use of ‘Jesus Christ’ ” by using “Mary Magdalene” instead. He also forced tweaks of the 1970 musical “Hair.”
Boston native and devout Catholic graduated from Bryant and Stratton Business College, served in the Navy during WWII, earned a journalism degree from Curry College, then worked for the Associated Press.
He is survived by wife Una, four sons, and six grandchildren.