Veteran theater producer Shelly Gross, co-founder of the Guber-Gross entertainment circuit, died June 19 in West Palm Beach, Fla. He was 88.
Gross founded the Valley Forge Music Fair in Devon, Penn., in 1955 with partners Lee Guber and Frank Ford. The fair, a large circus tent presenting summer musicals, proved a hit. Gross and his partners followed up in 1956 with the Westbury Music Fair on Long Island and later with the largest chain of year-round theaters in the country. Gross, Guber and Ford both ran the theaters and produced the shows. Those who appeared in their theaters included Liza Minnelli, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Bob Hope, Jack Benny and Angela Lansbury.
Gross also produced several Broadway shows, including “Lorelei” in 1974, a revival of “The King and I” with Yul Brynner in 1977 and a “Camelot” revival in 1993.
Born in Philadelphia, Gross graduated from the U. of Pennsylvania and Northwestern U. and served in WWII.
He began his broadcasting career as a radio and TV announcer and newscaster.
He is survived by his wife Joan, three sons and four grandchildren.