Mortimer Halpern, dean of Broadway stage managers, whose career spanned five decades, died Jan. 3 in New York. He was 96.
As production stage manager, he worked on over 40 Broadway shows and with performers such as Jean Arthur (“Peter Pan”), George C. Scott (“The Andersonville Trail”) and Cleavon Little (“Purlie”).
More recently, he worked on August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” in 1984. He remained active as a production supervisor into the 1990s with “The Cemetery Club” and “Truly Blessed.” He also spent 23 summers stage managing musicals for Guy Lombardo at the Jones Beach Theater.
His first break into Broadway theater came as a performer and assistant stage manager in Walter Kerr’s “Sing Out, Sweet Land” in 1944, featuring Alfred Drake and Burl Ives. He was later production stage manager for “Mrs. Patterson” featuring Eartha Kitt, in 1954; “The Disenchanted” with Jason Robards, Rosemary Harris, and George Grizzard in 1958; and “I Had a Ball” with Buddy Hackett and Richard Kiley in 1964. He also served as stage manager for the long-running show “Purlie”, with 688 performances in 1970-71.
Halpern is survived by his wife, the former Sherry Lambert.
Donations may be made to The Actors’ Fund of America, 729 Seventh Avenue, l0th Floor, New York, New York l0019 or Tudor City Greens, Inc., 5 Tudor City Place, Box 1-E, New York, NY 10017.