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Obie Awards Founder Jerry Tallmer Dies at 93

Jerry Tallmer, Village Voice theater critic and founder of the Obie Awards, has died at age 93. Tallmer’s daughter Abby confirmed the news to The New York Times.

Tallmer began working at the Voice in 1955, first for no pay before becoming an associate editor. The paper’s first issue featured a review from Tallmer of “The Threepenny Opera,” with a cast that included Bea Arthur, Lotte Lenya and Charlotte Rae. Tallmer was responsible for bringing many writers on board who would become regulars, including Nat Hentoff and Andrew Sarris.

By the time the third issue printed, Tallmer had conceived what would become the Obie Awards, to honor the downtown theater scene that the publication celebrated. The first Obie Awards were presented in 1956 with the Voice as a sponsor, under Tallmer’s direction. He went on to run the program through 1962, when he resigned from the Voice to join the New York Post.

The Obies continue to champion Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway productions, and this year honored playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and musical “Fun Home.”

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Tallmer is survived by his wife, Frances Martin, daughter Abby and her twin brother Matthew.

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