Roger Berlind, a prolific producer of more than 100 Broadway shows including such recent smashes as “The Book of Mormon,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” has died. He was 90.
Berlind died Dec. 18 at his home in Manhattan, according to the New York Times. Berlind was renowned on the Main Stem for his unusual route to success on Broadway. The Brooklyn native sought to make it as a songwriter but shifted to Wall Street and investment banking to make a living. After losing his wife and three of his four children in a plane crash at John F. Kennedy Airport in 1975, he eventually found his new calling producing Broadway plays and musicals.
Berlind’s credits stretched from early flops like 1976’s “Rex” and 1977’s “The Merchant” to contemporary hits including the 2019 revival of “Oklahoma!,” “Mean Girls” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” The most recent of his 25 Tony Award wins came last year for the dramatically re-imagined staging of the durable Rodgers and Hammerstein tuner “Oklahoma!” In 2017, he took home two Tonys, for best musical (“Dear Evan Hansen”) and for best musical revival (“Hello, Dolly!”).
The producer’s many other credits include 1980s hits “Amadeus,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Nine,” “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway” and “City of Angels.” In the 1990s he scored with a revival of “Gypsy,” “Kiss Me, Kate” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”
Broadway veteran Betty Buckley remembered Berlind as “a lovely man and wonderful producer” in a tweet sent on Christmas Eve after his death was reported by the New York Times. Actor David Aaron Damane noted that Berlind produced his first-ever Broadway show, “The Life,” an original musical that ran from April 1997 to June 1998.
“Always a kind word, always an affirming handshake, always a love for our show and theatre in general,” Damane wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for sharing it all.”
Berlind’s son William was 2 years old when his mother, Helen, 12-year-old sister and two brothers, aged 9 and 6, died in the tragic accident, according to the New York Times. William followed his father onto the Great White Way, working alongside him as a producer for Berlind Productions in addition to writing for the New York Times Magazine and New York Observer.
In addition to his son, Berlind’s survivors include his wife of 40 years, Brooke, a brother and two granddaughters.