R.H. “Hal” Gardner, retired theater and film critic for the Baltimore Sun, died March 4 of leukemia at his Baltimore home. He was 76. For the 33 years preceding his 1984 retirement, Gardner was a fixture on the Maryland entertainment scene. His reviews and features were incisive and, at times, tart as he assessed hundreds of plays and movies over the decades.
His journalistic advocacy also is credited with helping bring about the city’s regional theater, Center Stage, and its Broadway touring house, the Morris A. Mechanic Theater.
The Kentucky native and graduate of Texas Christian U. worked in an aircraft plant in Baltimore during World War II and as an insurance salesman and playwright before joining the Sun.
He turned his theater knowledge to advantage in a 1965 book, “The Splintered Stage: The Decline of the American Theater,” and tapped his journalistic experience for his 1990 memoirs, “Those Years: Recollections of a Baltimore Newspaperman.”
Survived by his wife.