The Broadway community mourns the loss of acclaimed director and performer Gene Saks, who passed away on Saturday at age 93. The marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in his memory on Wednesday, April 1st, at exactly 7:45pm for one minute.
The accomplished actor who became one of Broadway’s most prominent directors and won three Tony Awards® in addition to receiving multiple nominations, helmed many Neil Simon plays on Broadway including Biloxi Blues, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Jake’s Women, Rumors, Lost in Yonkers, Broadway Bound, The Odd Couple, and California Suite.
Saks won his first Tony Award® for Best Direction of a Play in 1977 for the Cy Coleman – Michael Stewart musical I Love My Wife, and two more for Neil Simon plays, Brighton Beach Memoirs in 1983 and Biloxi Blues in 1985. He also received nominations for Half a Sixpence (1965), Mame (1966), Same Time, Next Year (1975), and Lost in Yonkers (1991).
Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of the Broadway League, said, “Gene Saks was a notable presence on Broadway for six decades as an acclaimed performer and celebrated director. His legendary collaboration with Neil Simon contributed unparalleled magic and laughter to Broadway, and he will be missed. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and fans.”
Additional Broadway directing credits include Enter Laughing, Nobody Loves an Albatross, andRags. His final Broadway production was the bio-play Barrymore, which won a Tony for Christopher Plummer in 1997.
Saks, who was born in Manhattan and grew up in Hackensack, N.J., began his career as an actor. Saks made his acting debut on Broadway in South Pacific in 1949. On stage he also appeared in A Shot in the Dark, The Tenth Man, and his best-known stage role in A Thousand Clowns. He also appeared in the films Nobody’s Fool and Deconstructing Harry.
Among Saks’ film directing credits included Simon adaptations of The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, and Brighton Beach Memoirs. He also directed the 1969 Cactus Flower, which won Goldie Hawn the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
He is survived by wife Keren, their daughter, Annabelle, and three grandchildren. He is also survived by sons Matthew and Daniel from his marriage to his first wife, actress Bea Arthur.