Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Barbara Warner Howard, Founding Member of New York Theatre Workshop, Passes Away

Barbara Warner Howard, Founding Member of New York Theatre Workshop, Passes Away

Howard was 88 years old.

BroadwayWorld is saddened to report that Barbara Leah Warner Howard died on November 9, 2022, peacefully at home while listening to Ella Fitzgerald, surrounded by family and friends.

Barbara was born on September 30, 1934. She was the daughter of one of the great Hollywood moguls, Jack Warner, founder of Warner Bros., and Anne Page Warner. She recalled riding her tricycle around the studio lot as a toddler. Judy Garland sang at her Sweet 16, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor attended her debutante ball, and everyone from Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra to Delores Del Rio were guests in her parents' home. She told a story of climbing through a window at the Brown Derby Restaurant while on a date with Robert Evans to escape his fast-moving hands.

Though Barbara was born into a kind of American royalty most of us could only dream of, she aspired to escape it. So she headed east for her education, first in Switzerland and then at the Spence School in New York City, which at the time was a boarding school for girls. College at Sarah Lawrence followed.

An encounter with the debonair owner of the famed La Tour D'Argent restaurant in Paris, Claude Terrail, led to marriage and Barbara's only child, Anne Terrail. Claude had been a member of the French Resistance during World War II, his job to listen in and report on the conversations between the Nazis who used his restaurant as their personal canteen. The couple eventually divorced. Barbara later married jazz musician Raymond Lesénéchal and lived with him in Paris until they divorced.

On a trip back to Los Angeles to visit her parents, she ran into Cy Howard, a successful Hollywood screenwriter, director and producer she'd known many years. They fell in love, married and remained deeply in love until the end of his life in 1993. Often asked if she was interested in dating again, Barbara would reply, "I had the love of my life with Cy; I'm good."

A dedicated patron of the arts, Barbara became a founding member of the New York Theatre Workshop and remained an integral figure for over 40 years, serving on the board and as Board Chair. She was an early backer of many shows that transferred to Broadway, including RENT, ONCE, HADESTOWN and WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME. Her decades-long support and significant financial contributions nurtured the early careers of many prominent artists including Tony Kushner, Doug Wright, Ivo van Hove, Lisa Kron, The Five Lesbian Brothers, James Macdonald, Michael Greif, Lisa Peterson, Will Power, The Noor Theatre Company, Liliana Blaine-Cruz and Heidi Schreck.

Barbara's support of the NYTW community knew no bounds. She could be seen making meatballs for early fundraisers, painting scenery, and most memorably, performing as an extra in FAR AWAY by Caryl Churchill.

She opened her home regularly on behalf of the theatre, whether to raise money, welcome interns or celebrate an artist's new project. She hosted warm, delightful dinners for her wide, diverse circle of friends who, after a few drinks, invariably took turns holding the Oscar statuettes her father had won for Casablanca and My Fair Lady. Barbara loved nothing more than a fun, stimulating get-together and she was no stranger to FOMO. True to form, she had invited several friends months ahead of time to join her for the opening night of MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG at NYTW this December, which she was so eager to see.

Barbara is survived by her devoted daughter, Anne Terrail, who was by her side through the last months of her life, and by her grandchildren Eva Bergeret and Felix Bergeret. She is also survived by a nephew, Gregory Orr. A great lover of chihuahuas, Barbara leaves behind Chico Howard, a joyful companion to the end. Zorro Howard predeceased her several years ago.

Barbara will be remembered as a tireless force for good in the New York theatre scene - someone who actively eschewed attention and thanks, always redirecting the spotlight to the theatre-makers she so believed in. Generous, gracious, loyal and fun, she loved deeply and was deeply loved in return.

- written by Heather Randall and Lucy Kaylin

BroadwayWorld Shop
Shop BroadwayWorld

Shop this season's new musicals! Get dressed up for a night at the theatre, or just a night at home, with merch from some of Broadway's biggest hits including SOME LIKE IT HOT, KIMBERLY AKIMBO, and more!

Start Shopping

Related Stories
Melinda Dillon, Original Honey in WHOS AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? Passes Away at 83 Photo
Melinda Dillion, known for countless screen and stage roles, including her Tony Award nominated performance as Honey in the original production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? passed away on Monday, January 9, at the age of 83. 

LAVERNE & SHIRLEY Star Cindy Williams Passes Away At 75 Photo
Cindy Williams, a star of stage and screen and one half of the iconic duo, 'Laverne & Shirley' has passed away at the age of 75. 

Broadway Vet Lawrence Merritt Has Passed Away Photo
Broadway vet Lawrence Merritt passed away on January 22, 2023. He succumbed to COVID/pneumonia at the Riverside Rehabilitation and Healing Center in NYC. Read more about Merritt's life and career.

ROCKY HORROR Superfan Sal Piro Dies at 71 Photo
BroadwayWorld is saddened to report that Sal Piro, a Rocky Horror Picture Show superfan who was integral in creating the film's cult fanbase, has died at 71. Piro helped create the film's audience participation routines that are still used during screenings of the musical movie.

From This Author - Team BWW

Broadway Jukebox: Songs for Black History MonthBroadway Jukebox: Songs for Black History Month
February 4, 2023

Enjoy songs from musicals like Ragtime, Ain't Misbehavin', Memphis, Motown, Caroline, Or Change, Dreamgirls, The Color Purple, Showboat, Fela!, Jelly's Last Jam, Raisin, Hamilton, The Lion King, The Wiz and so many more!

Interview: Cheryl L. West & Kenneth L. Roberson Explain the Story of SHOUT SISTER SHOUT!Interview: Cheryl L. West & Kenneth L. Roberson Explain the Story of SHOUT SISTER SHOUT!
February 4, 2023

As Ford’s Theatre gears up for the spring 2023 musical, SHOUT SISTER SHOUT!, director Kenneth L. Roberson and playwright Cheryl L. West had a conversation with Director of Artistic Programming José Carrasquillo.

Play BroadwayWorld's Daily Word Game - 2/4/2023Play BroadwayWorld's Daily Word Game - 2/4/2023
February 4, 2023

Today's BroadwayWorld Daily Word Game is now live - can you guess today's word or phrase? The solution can be any theatre related word or phrase - a show title, performer, recognizable lyrical phrase, and more.

What is the West End and How Does It Compare to Broadway?What is the West End and How Does It Compare to Broadway?
February 4, 2023

Considered by some as the theatre capital of the world, London is home to the West End. What exactly is West End theatre all about? How many West End theatres are there? Is the West End like Broadway? We have all the details!

George Santos Falsely Claimed He Produced Broadway's Biggest Financial FlopGeorge Santos Falsely Claimed He Produced Broadway's Biggest Financial Flop
February 3, 2023

During his run for Congress in 2021, Santos reportedly claimed to potential donors he was a producer on the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.