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Martin Richards

Producer, Performer
( b. Mar 11, 1932 Bronx, New York, USA - d. Nov 26, 2012 New York, New York, USA ) Male
Also known as: Martin Klein
Relations: Brother-in-law of Joyce Johnson
Husband of Mary Lea Johnson
A flamboyant and effusive man who relished the good life, and had the money to bankroll it, Marty Richards was known as a great talker, a font of showbiz stories, and a thrower of opulent parties (Cy Coleman would perform alongside Neil Sedaka). He was also an open admirer of talent, his fascination with artists he respected never dimming. "I've always been terribly intimidated by Stephen Sondheim's genius, and I was afraid to approach him," he once said. "But he's the least stubborn composer. If you need another song, he just goes home and writes one and brings it back the next day."

As a producer, he could be tenacious. The Oscar for Chicago was hard-won. Mr. Richards began his quest to convert the Bob Fosse-directed Kander and Ebb musical, about a couple of merry Chicago murderesses who love the spotlight, into a film shortly after the show premiered on Broadway in 1975. Miramax optioned the movie rights to Chicago from Richards in 1991. Ten years later, the film was finally made. Mr. Richards was ever-present, arriving early in the morning every day of the shoot and leaving last, and fighting with the creators when he felt they were diverting from Fosse's original vision.

He was born Morton Richard Klein, the son of Sid Klein, a stockbroker, and Shirly Klein, a housewife, in The Bronx. His parents, noticing their son's fine voice, enrolled him in the Marie Moses School of Dance and Singing. His classmates included Donna Reed and Rita Moreno. When he was 10, he was cast in the 1944 musical comedy Mexican Hayride. His voice changed at age 13, however, and the opportunities dried up. Still, he persevered, singing in nightclubs under the name Martin Richards, while he studied architecture at NYU.

He struck out on his own as a producer in 1972, raising the money for an Off-Broadway show called Dylan. The play won an Obie Award. The producers Robert Fryer and James Cresson were impressed and invited him to help out on Chicago. Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon didn't particularly like the over-eager newcomer. But when the show was delayed by Fosse's heart attack, and Mr. Richards kept the cast together by finding them temporary jobs, Fosse was appreciative. A friendship was born.

Around this time, Mr. Richards met Band-Aid heiress Mary Lea Johnson, daughter of Seward Johnson of the Johnson & Johnson empire. Johnson and her then husband, Victor D'Arc, were interested in investing in theatre and movie projects, and turned to Mr. Richards for help. Together, Johnson and Mr. Richards founded Producer Circle Co. in 1976. When Johnson divorced D'Arc, she stayed with Mr. Richards. Though she knew he was gay, they married in 1978, eventually living in separate apartments in the same building. The union, by all accounts a happy one, afforded him a luxurious lifestyle. As a wedding gift, she gave him a Southampton estate on the beach with a swimming pool and a tennis court. Johnson died in 1990.

The first hit show that Mr. Richards and Johnson co-produced was On the Twentieth Century. Mr. Richards subsequently won Tony Awards for The Norman Conquests, Sweeney Todd, La Cage aux Folles, The Will Rogers Follies, The Life and the 2005 Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles. Less successful were A Doll's Life, Rockabye Hamlet, Grind, Mayor, Goodbye Fidel and Roza.

Mr. Richards was also a generous philanthropist. He, along with his late wife, was instrumental in founding Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Meals on Wheels. He went on to establish the liver and kidney transplant unit at the NYU Medical Center which bears his wife's name. Mr. Richards also created the New York Center for Children to care for abused children and their families.

Source: Playbill.com



Productions Date of Productions
Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life
[Musical, Original]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
Dec 11, 2005 - Feb 19, 2006
Sweeney Todd
[Musical, Thriller, Revival]
  • Originally produced on Broadway by: Martin Richards
Nov 03, 2005 - Sep 03, 2006
La Cage aux Folles
[Musical, Comedy, Revival]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
Dec 09, 2004 - Jun 26, 2005
Sweet Smell of Success
[Musical, Drama, Original]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
  • Produced in association with The Producer Circle Company
Mar 14, 2002 - Jun 15, 2002
The Life
[Musical, Original]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
Apr 26, 1997 - Jun 07, 1998
Sally Marr...and her escorts
[Play, Original]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
May 05, 1994 - Jun 19, 1994
The Will Rogers Follies
[Musical, Original]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
May 01, 1991 - Sep 05, 1993
Grand Hotel
[Musical, Drama, Original]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
Nov 12, 1989 - Apr 25, 1992
Sweeney Todd
[Musical, Thriller, Revival]
  • Originally produced on Broadway by Martin Richards
Sep 14, 1989 - Feb 25, 1990
Roza
[Musical, Original]
  • Produced by The Producer Circle Company
Oct 01, 1987 - Oct 11, 1987
Mayor
[Musical, Original]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
Oct 23, 1985 - Jan 05, 1986
Grind
[Musical, Original]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
Apr 16, 1985 - Jun 22, 1985
La Cage aux Folles
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
Aug 21, 1983 - Nov 15, 1987
A Doll's Life
[Musical, Original]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
Sep 23, 1982 - Sep 26, 1982
Crimes of the Heart
[Play, Original]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
Nov 04, 1981 - Feb 13, 1983
Goodbye Fidel
[Play, Original]
  • Produced by The Producer Circle Company
  • Produced by Martin Richards
Apr 23, 1980 - Apr 26, 1980
Sweeney Todd
[Musical, Thriller, Original]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
Mar 01, 1979 - Jun 29, 1980
On the Twentieth Century
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Produced by Martin Richards
Feb 19, 1978 - Mar 18, 1979
Rockabye Hamlet
[Musical, Original]
  • Produced in association with Martin Richards
Feb 17, 1976 - Feb 21, 1976
The Norman Conquests: Round and Round the Garden
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Produced in association with Martin Richards
Dec 07, 1975 - Jun 19, 1976
The Norman Conquests: Table Manners
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Produced in association with Martin Richards
Dec 07, 1975 - Jun 18, 1976
The Norman Conquests: Living Together
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Produced in association with Martin Richards
Dec 07, 1975 - Jun 19, 1976
Chicago
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Produced in association with Martin Richards
Jun 03, 1975 - Aug 27, 1977
Mexican Hayride
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Martin Klein
    • - Replacement
Jan 28, 1944 - Mar 17, 1945
Special Events Date of Special Events
On the Twentieth Century
[Special, Benefit, Comedy, Concert, Revival]
  • Produced on the Broadway stage by Martin Richards
Sep 26, 2005 - Sep 26, 2005
2005 Tony Award® Best Revival of a Musical
winnerLa Cage aux Folles [winner]
Produced by Martin Richards
2005 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival of a Musical
winnerLa Cage aux Folles [winner]
Produced by Martin Richards
2002 Tony Award® Best Musical
 Sweet Smell of Success [nominee]
Produced by Martin Richards
2002 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Musical
 Sweet Smell of Success [nominee]
Produced by Martin Richards
1997 Tony Award® Best Musical
 The Life [nominee]
Produced by Martin Richards
1997 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Musical
winnerThe Life [winner]
Produced by Martin Richards
1991 Tony Award® Best Musical
winnerThe Will Rogers Follies [winner]
Produced by Martin Richards
1991 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical
winnerThe Will Rogers Follies [winner]
Produced by Martin Richards
1990 Tony Award® Best Musical
 Grand Hotel [nominee]
Produced by Martin Richards
1990 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical
 Grand Hotel [nominee]
Produced by Martin Richards
1985 Tony Award® Best Musical
 Grind [nominee]
Produced by Martin Richards
1984 Tony Award® Best Musical
winnerLa Cage aux Folles [winner]
Produced by Martin Richards
1984 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical
 La Cage aux Folles [nominee]
Produced by Martin Richards
1982 Tony Award® Best Play
 Crimes of the Heart [nominee]
Produced by Martin Richards
1981 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Play
 Crimes of the Heart [nominee]
Produced by Martin Richards
1979 Tony Award® Best Musical
winnerSweeney Todd [winner]
Produced by Martin Richards
1979 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical
winnerSweeney Todd [winner]
Produced by Martin Richards
1978 Tony Award® Best Musical
 On the Twentieth Century [nominee]
Produced by Martin Richards
1976 Drama Desk Award Unique Theatrical Experience
winnerThe Norman Conquests: Living Together [winner]
Produced in association with Martin Richards
1976 Drama Desk Award Unique Theatrical Experience
winnerThe Norman Conquests: Round and Round the Garden [winner]
Produced in association with Martin Richards
1976 Drama Desk Award Unique Theatrical Experience
winnerThe Norman Conquests: Table Manners [winner]
Produced in association with Martin Richards
Find out where Martin Richards and are credited together