You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Gary Gardner, UCLA Theater Professor, Dies at 69

UCLA Theater professor Gary Gardner, who was named No. 1 UCLA Instructor for eight straight years during his 40-year tenure at the School of Theater, Film and Television, died of natural causes in his Los Angeles home on June 15. He was 69.

Gardner is remembered by students for his most popular class, History of the American Musical Theater, in which the professor was known to break into Broadway songs.

The campus’ surge of interest in musical theater sparked by Gardner’s class led the estate of Ray Bolger (Scarecrow in 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz”) to launch the Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program. Gardner chaired the program from its inception until his death.

Gardner’s students included Shane Black, Nancy Cartwright, Susan Egan, Diane Frolov, Mariska Hargitay, Tom Shumacher, Ed Solomon, Michael Stuhlbarg and Tim Robbins.

A champion of student-written productions, Gardner was especially proud of directing the musical revue “Bruinhaha,” which played the Kennedy Center and won the ASCAP Award in 1985. Other Gardner student productions won the American College Theater Festival awards in 1977, 1984, 1989 and 2009. Some of Gardner’s sold-out musical productions at UCLA included “Company,” “A Chorus Line,” “Urinetown” and “Anything Goes.”

Gardner was also a playwright, with several off-Broadway credits. He wrote yearly galas for the 92nd Street Y with composer John Kroner , which included numbers performed by Judy Kaye and Sutton and Hunter Foster.

Gardner was born and raised in Danville, Ill. and earned his B.A. from the University of Illinois in 1966. He earned an MFA in Playwriting at UCLA in 1968 and was awarded a Ph.D from the University of Illinois before returning to UCLA to begin teaching.

The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television will establish two scholarships in Gardner’s honor, the Gary Gardner Musical Theater Scholarship and the Gary Gardner Playwriting Scholarship.

Gardner is survived by his sister, a niece, two nephews and seven great-nephews and nieces.

More Legit

  • Springsteen on Broadway opening

    Bruce Springsteen Extends Broadway Run?

    UCLA Theater professor Gary Gardner, who was named No. 1 UCLA Instructor for eight straight years during his 40-year tenure at the School of Theater, Film and Television, died of natural causes in his Los Angeles home on June 15. He was 69. Gardner is remembered by students for his most popular class, History of […]

  • Tracy Letts

    Stagecraft Podcast: Blackmail Led Tracy Letts to Acting (Listen)

    UCLA Theater professor Gary Gardner, who was named No. 1 UCLA Instructor for eight straight years during his 40-year tenure at the School of Theater, Film and Television, died of natural causes in his Los Angeles home on June 15. He was 69. Gardner is remembered by students for his most popular class, History of […]

  • profiles theatre Sexual Harassment

    Sexual Harassment in the Theater: How Chicago Fought Back

    UCLA Theater professor Gary Gardner, who was named No. 1 UCLA Instructor for eight straight years during his 40-year tenure at the School of Theater, Film and Television, died of natural causes in his Los Angeles home on June 15. He was 69. Gardner is remembered by students for his most popular class, History of […]

  • The Band's Visit

    Broadway Box Office: Promising Start for 'The Band's Visit'

    UCLA Theater professor Gary Gardner, who was named No. 1 UCLA Instructor for eight straight years during his 40-year tenure at the School of Theater, Film and Television, died of natural causes in his Los Angeles home on June 15. He was 69. Gardner is remembered by students for his most popular class, History of […]

  • Judd Apatow

    Judd Apatow on Weinstein Co. at Power of Women Luncheon: 'Shut It Down'

    UCLA Theater professor Gary Gardner, who was named No. 1 UCLA Instructor for eight straight years during his 40-year tenure at the School of Theater, Film and Television, died of natural causes in his Los Angeles home on June 15. He was 69. Gardner is remembered by students for his most popular class, History of […]

  • War Paint review

    Broadway Musical 'War Paint' Will Close Earlier Than Expected

    UCLA Theater professor Gary Gardner, who was named No. 1 UCLA Instructor for eight straight years during his 40-year tenure at the School of Theater, Film and Television, died of natural causes in his Los Angeles home on June 15. He was 69. Gardner is remembered by students for his most popular class, History of […]

  • Springsteen on Broadway opening

    'Springsteen on Broadway' Opening: Don't Clap Along With The Boss

    UCLA Theater professor Gary Gardner, who was named No. 1 UCLA Instructor for eight straight years during his 40-year tenure at the School of Theater, Film and Television, died of natural causes in his Los Angeles home on June 15. He was 69. Gardner is remembered by students for his most popular class, History of […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content