Director, Producer, Theatre Owner/Operator, Writer
( b. Jan 15, 1911 Brooklyn, New York, USA - d. May 17, 2006 New York, New York, USA ) Male
A legendary Broadway producer, director, composer, and musician, Cy Feuer brought to life many of America's most enduring musicals - both to the stage and screen.
Cy Feuer was born Seymour Arnold Feuer in Brooklyn to Herman Feuer, the manager of a Yiddish theater on Second Avenue on the Lower East Side, and the former Ann Abrams, a saleswoman in a dress shop.
Herman Feuer died of cancer when Cy was 13, leaving his mother, himself and his younger brother, Stan, to subsist on Mrs. Feuer's 1920's wages of $25 a week or less. Ann Feuer decided that Cy should learn to play the trumpet, and when he went to New Utrecht High School in South Brooklyn, where he was not an especially good student, he played trumpet in the band. She encouraged him to attend Juilliard.
He played the trumpet at the Roxy, at Radio City and other theatres, then became a composer and head of the Music Department of Republic Pictures during the 1930s and '40s. He was a captain in the Army Air Force during World War II. When he returned to NY in 1947, he teamed up with Ernie Martin, and they became Broadway producers for more than 50 years.
Their first show was an adaptation of the novel "Charley's Aunt" into the musical Where's Charley? They persuaded Ray Bolger, the Scarecrow from "The Wizard of Oz," to play the lead and Loesser to write the music and lyrics. George Abbott, an established force on Broadway, agreed to write the book and direct.
Where's Charley? received dreadful reviews when it opened at the St. James Theater in 1948, but the public loved it, and it ran for 840 performances.
Meanwhile, Mr. Feuer and Mr. Martin had decided to produce Guys and Dolls. Mr. Feuer, looking for a witty writer who could draw on the raffish characters of Damon Runyon's stories, picked Abe Burrows, with whom he had gone to high school. Loesser was again hired to write music and lyrics. Opening at the 46th Street Theater in 1950, the show starred Robert Alda and ran for 1,200 performances, winning the 1951 Tony Award for best musical. In that show Mr. Feuer was a pioneer in integrating a Broadway pit by hiring the black trumpeter Joe Wilder.
Then it was on to Can-Can written by Cole Porter, The Boyfriend starring newcomer Julie Andrews, and the Pulitzer winning How to Succeed (1961). In 1962 they tapped a young playwright named Neil Simon to write the book for Little Me, which Feuer also directed.
Feuer and Martin were at their peak from 1950 to 1965, a period often called the heyday of the American musical. This was before rock 'n' roll began its reign, when talents like Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Rodgers and Hammerstein ruled the national culture, and shows like My Fair Lady and West Side Story went head-to-head on Broadway.
More than 20 years later, unhappy with the director of The Act, Martin Scorsese, they dropped him, saying he had more promise as a film director. That musical, set in a nightclub, played at the Majestic and lasted less than a year. During the 1970's and 80's, Mr. Martin and Mr. Feuer returned to the West Coast, working with Los Angeles and San Francisco opera companies and producing film versions of "A Chorus Line" and "Cabaret," to mixed success.
"Cabaret" (1972) won eight Academy Awards; the film version of "A Chorus Line" (1985), unlike the Broadway show, was widely considered a creative failure.
In all, Mr. Feuer produced a dozen Broadway musicals, with Mr. Martin or alone, ending with The Act, in 1977, starring Liza Minnelli. His final Broadway credit came two years later as director of I Remember Mama, which landed with a thud at the Majestic Theater and lasted 108 performances.
He was President and later Chairman of The League of American Theatres and Producers, Inc., the trade association for Broadway producers, presenters and theatres, from 1989-2003.
Source: The New York Times obituary