Frederick M. Winship, longtime theater reviewer for UPI, died peacefully in his New York City apartment on September 3. No cause of death was given. He was 90 and was writing a review of a play he had just seen when he died.
He was a reporter, editor and critic for the wire service for nearly 70 years. Winship was known as one of UPI’s most versatile writers, having covered, as he once said, “everything but sports.”
A personal interest in the arts led him to expand UPI’s coverage in this area and took him across the U.S. and abroad to cover museum exhibitions and to critique operatic, symphonic, and dance performances and theatrical events.
His interviews ranged from Winston Churchill, President Harry S. Truman, hydrogen bomb developer Edward Teller and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. He considered an interview with crusty architect Frank Lloyd Wright on the occasion of the completion of the Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York as one of his most interesting encounters.
Winship was named UPI’s assistant managing editor in charge of the new service’s worldwide news feature and enterprise report in 1975. In 1983 he was named senior editor for arts and theater and became UPI’s Broadway drama critic, reviewing literally thousands of productions. Since 2000 he held the title Critic-at-Large for the Arts and Theater.
Winship was active in cultural and community affairs, and served as chairman of the Easter Seal Society of Greater New York, initiating its annual fund-raising telethon. For many years he was president of Letters Abroad, an affiliate of the U.S. Information Service’s People-to-People Program. He was also chairman of The Oratorio Society of New York, the city’s oldest choral group, and a member of the boards of the New York State Easter Seal Society, Museum of the City of New York, and Friends of the American Theater Wing.
He was born in Franklin, Ohio, into a family active in journalism since the 1790s. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1945 from DePauw University, where he was president of the founding chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, the national journalism fraternity. He graduated in 1946 from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and started his career on UPI’s New York news desk.
One of his first assignments was as correspondent at the new United Nations in its temporary headquarters in Lake Success, N.Y., and later at its permanent headquarters in Manhattan. There he covered one of the major stories of the day, the lengthy debate on the establishment of the State of Israel. Winship later covered politics, the courts, social events, and cultural affairs in New York.
In 1958 he was named an Ogden Reid Journalism Fellow and spent a year studying the second five-year economic development program in India. Other assignments took him to Europe, Africa. South America, and Australia. He wrote some of the earliest reports on the controversial planned city of Brasilia, now Brazil’s capital; the discovery of Cheop’s Solar Ship at the foot of the pharaoh’s pyramid in Egypt; and the opening of the Soviet Union and China to tourism. He reported extensively on the glamorous marriage of American socialite Hope Cooke to the future king of Sikkim.
In 1967 he married Joanne Tree Thompson, a former screen, stage, and television actress who turned journalist, reporting on fashion and life style for UPI, AP and the New York Post. She died in 1997.
Survivors include four nieces and a nephew; five great nieces and four great nephews.