Martin Charnin, a Tony-winning lyricist and writer best known for creating and directing the Broadway musical “Annie,” died Saturday after suffering a heart attack. He was 84.
His daughter confirmed the news, writing on Facebook, “Our father passed away. Martin Charnin lived a very full life. He was watching Family Feud at the end, laughing with Shelly in bed at the hospital. Which way do we go Daddy? Damn. But like he said and as corny as this sounds…the sun’ll will come out tomorrow.”
Though he is best known for his work behind the scenes, Charnin got his start on stage as Big Deal in the original 1957 Broadway production of “West Side Story.” He also went on to appear alongside Dick Van Dyke in the 1959 revue “The Girls Against the Boys.”
Soon after, Charnin began writing lyrics as part of the cabaret circuit, working with a number of prominent artists including impresario Julius Monk and composer Mary Rodgers. Other projects included Vernon Duke’s musical “Zenda,” the Off-Broadway “Ballad for a Firing Squad” and the 1970 musical “Two By Two,” which he wrote lyrics for alongside Richard Rodgers and Peter Stone.
At the same time, Charnin turned his sights to television where he won an Emmy for producing “Annie, the Woman in the Life of a Man,” which starred starred Anne Bancroft in 14 different musical sketches. He was nominated three more times, winning again in 1972 for “S Wonderful, ’S Marvelous, ’S Gershwin.”
In 1977, “Annie” opened on Broadway after Charnin optioned the Depression-era comic “Little Orphan Annie” from the Tribune Company. The musical scored 10 Tony nominations and won seven, including one for best musical. Charnin went on to work on a number of Broadway productions including “Bar Mitzvah Boy,” “Remember Mama,” “The First,” “A Little Family Business,” “Cafe Crown,” “Sid Caesar & Company” and “The Flowering Peach.”
He is survived by his wife, all of his children and his three grandchildren.