Bernard “Bernie” Weiss, a familiar backstage figure on Broadway for four decades, died March 24 in Las Vegas. He was 78.
Weiss worked as a skilled set builder under such designers as Ralph Alswang, Lemuel Ayers and Jo Mielziner. Trained as an educator in industrial arts, he came to New York in the 1950s and served with a scenic studio producing stage sets for Broadway and TV.
He later owned and operated Metro Scenic Studios, which he later sold and returned to backstage work on Broadway.
As a stagehand he worked on many of the great musicals of the era. He was house carpenter and manager of technical activities for the Schuberts where he was involved most closely as a supervisor at the Cort Theater.
His work with the late designer and stage consultant Peter Feller led to work on the design and construction of the state-owned theater in Mexico City and to a State Dept. assignment in the Soviet Union where he participated in the renovation of historic theaters and opera houses.
In 1976, he worked on the design and fabrication of the Olympic torch for the Winter Games at Lake Placid.
A longtime member of IATSE, he was honored in 2002 as a Fellow of the U.S. Institute for Theater Technology.
Born and educated in Cleveland, he enlisted in the Navy in 1943 an served during WWII as a torpedo man. Upon discharge, he earned a degree in industrial arts education at Ohio State.
In 1954, he married Joyce Blum of Sterling, Ill., whom he had met while she was an apprentice at the Cleveland Playhouse. Upon retiring from the theatrical industry, the Weisses moved to Las Vegas, which was their home for nine years.
In addition to his wife of 48 years, he is survived by a daughter, son and brother. Burial was in Las Vegas.