N.Y. theater’s Shurtleff dies

Legit vet started first indie casting service

Michael Shurtleff, a fixture in New York theater during the 1960s and 1970s, died Jan. 28 in Los Angeles of complications related to lung cancer. He was 86.

After working for Jerome Robbins and David Merrick, Shurtleff started the first Broadway independent casting service. His clients included Bob Fosse, David Susskind, Arthur Laurents, Peter Glenville and Mike Nichols. Among the projects he cast were”Jesus Christ Superstar” “Chicago,” “Pippin,” “Gypsy,” and the movies “The Graduate” and “The Sound of Music.”

Shurtleff is known for his “Audition.” While casting “The Lion in Winter,” he was distraught by talented actors not knowing how to audition for a role and created a class to address the problem, then wrote a book based on the class.

He wrote several plays including “Call Me By My Rightful Name,” directed by Milton Katselas, which starred Joan Hackett, Robert Duvall and Alvin Ailey. His play “Sailing” was chosen for the volume “The Best Short Plays of 1979.”

He moved to Los Angeles in 1975 to teach acting, and also taught master classes in cities including New York, Toronto, Sydney, Vancouver, Pittsburgh and Boston.

He is survived by two brothers.

More Scene

  • 'Make it Reality' book launch

    Endemol Shine's Cris Abrego Shares Hope for Bilingual Programming at Paley Center

    Michael Shurtleff, a fixture in New York theater during the 1960s and 1970s, died Jan. 28 in Los Angeles of complications related to lung cancer. He was 86. After working for Jerome Robbins and David Merrick, Shurtleff started the first Broadway independent casting service. His clients included Bob Fosse, David Susskind, Arthur Laurents, Peter Glenville […]

  • 'Adrift' film premiere

    'Adrift' Team Talks Making a 'Female Superhero' on the Open Ocean

    Michael Shurtleff, a fixture in New York theater during the 1960s and 1970s, died Jan. 28 in Los Angeles of complications related to lung cancer. He was 86. After working for Jerome Robbins and David Merrick, Shurtleff started the first Broadway independent casting service. His clients included Bob Fosse, David Susskind, Arthur Laurents, Peter Glenville […]

  • HBO's 'SUCCESSION

    Why Brian Cox Says Wealthy Family Drama 'Succession' Is Both Timeless and Timely

    Michael Shurtleff, a fixture in New York theater during the 1960s and 1970s, died Jan. 28 in Los Angeles of complications related to lung cancer. He was 86. After working for Jerome Robbins and David Merrick, Shurtleff started the first Broadway independent casting service. His clients included Bob Fosse, David Susskind, Arthur Laurents, Peter Glenville […]

  • Gracie Awards

    Rita Moreno Celebrates Female Empowerment at Gracie Awards: 'It's About Damn Time'

    Michael Shurtleff, a fixture in New York theater during the 1960s and 1970s, died Jan. 28 in Los Angeles of complications related to lung cancer. He was 86. After working for Jerome Robbins and David Merrick, Shurtleff started the first Broadway independent casting service. His clients included Bob Fosse, David Susskind, Arthur Laurents, Peter Glenville […]

  • global women's rights awards

    Nina Shaw, Laura Dern Stress Importance of Intersectionality in Time’s Up Movement

    Michael Shurtleff, a fixture in New York theater during the 1960s and 1970s, died Jan. 28 in Los Angeles of complications related to lung cancer. He was 86. After working for Jerome Robbins and David Merrick, Shurtleff started the first Broadway independent casting service. His clients included Bob Fosse, David Susskind, Arthur Laurents, Peter Glenville […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content