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Samuel Liff

Producer, Stage Manager, Production Staff, Production Crew
( b. Apr 14, 1919 Boston, Massachusetts, USA - d. Aug 10, 2015 Yorktown Heights, New York, USA ) Male
Also known as: Biff Liff
Relations: Uncle of Vincent G. Liff
When My Fair Lady opened on Broadway in 1956, there was Alan Jay Lerner's book, and there was Biff Liff's book. Mr. Liff's book, the log he kept as the production stage manager, swelled to several volumes over the show's long run, and the entries were not just about each performance.

"Rex insisted on shower in his dressing room," Mr. Liff wrote in one entry, referring to Rex Harrison. "Never uses it." In another entry, Mr. Liff wrote: "Pickpocket Julie Andrews clipped my tie clip while talking to me. Returned it after the performance. This girl has a future." And when Mr. Harrison left the cast in 1957, Mr. Liff declared, "Harrison never did use that shower."

Mr. Liff -- whose given name was Samuel -- went on to become an associate producer in the 1960s under Broadway showmen like David Merrick. Then, in the 1970s, he became a theatrical agent whose clients included Ms. Andrews, Jane Alexander, Angela Lansbury, Agnes de Mille and Chita Rivera. But it was backstage, with titles like production stage manager, that he first made his mark.

Mr. Liff was a towering presence in the theater -- literally. A barrel-chested man with an enormous head, he also had a voice that, at least in the good-natured imitations of friends, could project the absolute authority of a bass-baritone. He could be the deep, reassuring source of calm in the frenzied, cutthroat world of Broadway, where powerhouses like Merrick considered actors "unruly children."

Mr. Liff was born in Boston, the youngest child of Morris Liff, a restaurateur, and Rose Liff. He graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, now Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh in 1939 with a degree in theater.

As an Army officer during World War II in Chicago, he oversaw what amounted to the opposite of an assembly line: a disassembly line, whose purpose was to examine damaged gear sent back from the front and salvage parts or materials, like tubes in radios. He had been promoted to captain by the end of the war.

Peter Webb, a playwright and director who interviewed Mr. Liff for a potential biography, said he worked for the producers Herman Levin and Melvyn Douglas on a national tour of Call Me Mister, a musical that was about what Mr. Liff was at that moment in his life, a veteran. The troupe included Bob Fosse and Carl Reiner.

Mr. Liff's first show as a stage manager was Along Fifth Avenue, which ran 180 performances from January to June 1949. It overlapped with "Admiral Broadway Revue," a show on the new medium of television that originated from a converted theater in Columbus Circle.

Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca and the director Max Liebman, who created "Admiral Broadway Revue," went on to work on the groundbreaking "Your Show of Shows" in 1950. But by then, Mr. Liff was working as the stage manager on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, produced by Mr. Levin and Oliver Smith. It starred Carol Channing, who later became a client of Mr. Liff's.

For By the Beautiful Sea in 1954, Mr. Levin was given a better title: production stage manager. And it was that title that he held on My Fair Lady, which opened on March 15, 1956. In the 1960s, he was listed as associate producer when Merrick introduced Woody Allen to Broadway as a playwright in Don't Drink the Water and as an actor in Play It Again, Sam. Mr. Liff held the same title on Promises, Promises, Cactus Flower and The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd.

His last credit was as associate producer on Tricks, a musical comedy produced by Mr. Levin that ran for five previews and eight performances in January 1973. He then joined the William Morris Agency as the head of its legitimate theater department. Mr. Liff was a longtime member of the Tony Awards nominating committee and received a 2006 Tony honor for excellence in theater.

Source: The New York Times obituary 


ProductionsDate of Productions
Tricks
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Jan 08, 1973 - Jan 13, 1973
Sugar
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Production Associate: Samuel Liff
Apr 09, 1972 - Jun 23, 1973
Moonchildren
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Feb 21, 1972 - Mar 04, 1972
Vivat! Vivat Regina!
[Play, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Jan 20, 1972 - Apr 29, 1972
The Philanthropist
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Mar 15, 1971 - May 15, 1971
Four on a Garden
House of Dunkelmayer
[Play, One Act, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Betty
[Play, One Act, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Toreador
[Play, One Act, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
The Swingers
[Play, One Act, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Jan 30, 1971 - Mar 20, 1971
A Midsummer Night's Dream
[Play, Comedy, Revival]
  • Production Supervisor: Samuel Liff
Jan 20, 1971 - Mar 13, 1971
Child's Play
[Play, Drama, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Feb 17, 1970 - Dec 12, 1970
Private Lives
[Play, Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Revival]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Dec 04, 1969 - May 30, 1970
The Penny Wars
[Play, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Oct 15, 1969 - Oct 18, 1969
A Patriot for Me
[Play, Drama, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Oct 06, 1969 - Nov 15, 1969
Play It Again, Sam
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Feb 12, 1969 - Mar 14, 1970
Forty Carats
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Dec 26, 1968 - Nov 07, 1970
Promises, Promises
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Dec 01, 1968 - Jan 01, 1972
Rockefeller and the Red Indians
[Play, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Oct 24, 1968 - Oct 26, 1968
The Seven Descents of Myrtle
[Play, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Mar 27, 1968 - Apr 20, 1968
The Happy Time
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Jan 18, 1968 - Sep 28, 1968
How Now, Dow Jones
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Dec 07, 1967 - Jun 15, 1968
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Oct 16, 1967 - Oct 19, 1968
Keep It In the Family
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Sep 27, 1967 - Sep 30, 1967
The Astrakhan Coat
[Play, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Jan 12, 1967 - Jan 28, 1967
Breakfast at Tiffany's
[Musical, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Never Officially Opened - Dec 14, 1966
Don't Drink the Water
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Nov 17, 1966 - Apr 20, 1968
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
[Play, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Oct 19, 1966 - Oct 26, 1966
The Loves of Cass McGuire
[Play, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Oct 06, 1966 - Oct 22, 1966
Philadelphia, Here I Come!
[Play, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Feb 16, 1966 - Oct 01, 1966
The Persecution and Assassination of Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade
[Play, Drama, Play with music, Original]
  • Production Supervisor: Samuel Liff
Dec 27, 1965 - Apr 30, 1966
Cactus Flower
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Dec 08, 1965 - Nov 23, 1968
Inadmissible Evidence
[Play, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Nov 30, 1965 - Apr 23, 1966
Oliver!
[Musical, Comedy, Drama, Original]
  • Production Supervisor: Samuel Liff
Aug 02, 1965 - Sep 25, 1965
The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
May 16, 1965 - Dec 04, 1965
I Was Dancing
[Play, Original]
  • Associate Produced by Samuel Liff
Nov 08, 1964 - Nov 21, 1964
A Severed Head
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Production Supervisor: Samuel Liff
Oct 28, 1964 - Nov 21, 1964
Hello, Dolly!
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Production Supervisor: Samuel Liff
    • - Replacement
Jan 16, 1964 - Dec 27, 1970
The Girl Who Came to Supper
[Musical, Original]
  • Production Stage Manager: Samuel Liff
Dec 08, 1963 - Mar 14, 1964
The Lady of the Camellias
[Play, Original]
  • Production Stage Manager: Samuel Liff
Mar 20, 1963 - Mar 30, 1963
Moby Dick
[Play, Drama, Original]
  • Produced by Samuel Liff
Nov 28, 1962 - Dec 08, 1962
Bravo Giovanni
[Musical, Original]
  • Production Stage Manager: Samuel Liff
May 19, 1962 - Sep 15, 1962
My Fair Lady
[Musical, Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Original]
  • Production Stage Manager: Samuel Liff
Mar 15, 1956 - Sep 29, 1962
The Matchmaker
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Production Stage Manager: Samuel Liff [August]
Dec 05, 1955 - Feb 02, 1957
Lunatics and Lovers
[Play, Farce, Original]
  • Production Stage Manager: Samuel Liff
Dec 13, 1954 - Oct 01, 1955
By the Beautiful Sea
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Production Stage Manager: Samuel Liff
Apr 08, 1954 - Nov 27, 1954
The Little Hut
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Stage Manager: Samuel Liff
Oct 07, 1953 - Oct 31, 1953
My Darlin' Aida
[Musical, Original]
  • Stage Manager: Samuel Liff
Oct 27, 1952 - Jan 10, 1953
Dear Barbarians
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Stage Manager: Samuel Liff
Feb 21, 1952 - Feb 24, 1952
Nina
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Stage Manager: Samuel Liff
Dec 05, 1951 - Jan 12, 1952
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Stage Manager: Samuel Liff
Dec 08, 1949 - Sep 15, 1951
Along Fifth Avenue
[Musical, Revue, Original]
  • Stage Manager: Samuel Liff
Jan 13, 1949 - Jun 18, 1949
2006 Tony Award® Tony Honor for Excellence in Theatre
nomineeSamuel Liff [recipient]
Find out where Samuel Liff and are credited together