×

Richard L. Coe

Richard Livingston Coe, emeritus theater critic of the Washington Post, died Nov. 12 in Washington of lymphoma. He was 81.

Coe joined the Post in 1938 and, except for a stint in the Army during World War II, spent his career at the paper. He retired in 1979.

During those four decades, he saw Washington transformed from a legit backwater to one of the country’s key theater cities. Coe used his columns and reviews to promote improvement of Washington’s theater.

Actress Joan Fontaine once described Coe as “that great rarity, a critic who loves actors and loves directors and loves playwrights and even, by God, loves producers.”

Born in New York City, Coe joined the Post as assistant drama critic and radio editor. After the war, he was named drama critic. Coe, and Elliot Norton in Boston, were the deans of the tryout, their own power enhanced by the fact that producers, directors and authors often counted on their reviews for advice about getting their shows in shape for Broadway. Theirs was often the first word out to the public about up-and-coming talent and surefire hits.

Coe was instrumental in the creation of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and was a major supporter of the Arena Stage, Washington’s most prominent theater organizations. He was a founding member of the American Theater Critics Assn. and in 1963 was named Critic of the Year by the Directors’ Guild of America.

Coe married journalist Christine Sadler, the Washington editor of McCall’s magazine. Sadler died in 1983. They had no children.

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Watchmen

    Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Talks 'Watchmen,' 'Matrix 4': 'I'm Not Nervous At All'

    Yahya Adbul-Mateen II is facing some serious pressure. The actor is in the middle of a massive career surge, taking on roles in HBO’s “Watchmen” and the upcoming “Matrix 4” — and with those roles, the expectations of their fans.  “I have the responsibility of upholding something that was already done while also bringing in [...]

  • David Lindelof Watchmen Premiere

    'Watchmen' Creator Damon Lindelof Weighs in on Martin Scorsese's Marvel Criticisms

    Damon Lindelof disagrees with Martin Scorsese about his recent claims that Marvel movies don’t qualify as cinema. The director’s proclamation, along with the polarized critical reception of “Joker,” are the latest salvos in a long history of questioning comic book movies’ place in cinematic history. The lingering question: Can superhero fare be considered “high art?” [...]

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content