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Press agent Bill Schelble dies

Repped shows on Broadway, on tour

Former theatrical press agent Bill Schelble, who represented numerous shows in New York and on the road, died of natural causes in Milwaukee on Jan. 9. He was 81.

Schelble began his showbiz career as personal assistant to writer-director Burt Shevelove, a job that involved work on TV musical productions as well as on Shevelove-helmed Broadway productions including “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

Schelble became a press agent in 1970, first representing shows staged at Lincoln Center Theater including productions of “Playboy of the Western World,” “Twelfth Night” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Later he repped Broadway productions including “A Chorus Line” and “Amadeus.”

Often called “Smilin’ Broadway Bill” and well known for his encyclopedic knowledge of theater history, Schelble ended his career as a Tony Award nominator.

Edward William Schelble was born in Milwaukee and was first drawn to the theater through a childhood encounter with Katharine Hepburn. He performed in summer stock in the Midwest, encountering Geraldine Page, who encouraged the budding actor; studied for two years at Marquette U.; and moved to Los Angeles, where he studied at the Pasadena Playhouse and made it into “Singin’ in the Rain” as a background dancer.

During the Korean War he served in the Army Stateside. Schelble relocated to New York City in 1955 in further pursuit of an acting career but eventually became a press agent.

He is survived by two sisters and numerous nephews and nieces.

Donations may be made to Broadway Cares, 165 W. 46th St., Suite 1300, New York, NY 10036 (attention: Care Cards) or online at Broadwaycares.org or to the Alzheimer’s Assn., 620 S. 76th St., Suite 160, Milwaukee, WI 53214.

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