FIDDLER Scribe Joseph Stein Passes Away at 98

Legendary theater writer Joseph Stein passed away yesterday, October 24, 2010 at the age of 98 according to those who have recently worked with him. Stein leaves behind the musicals Fiddler on the Roof, Zorba, and Mr. Wonderful, to name a few.

A chance encounter with Zero Mostel led him to start writing comedy sketches for radio personalities such as Henry Morgan, Hildegarde, Tallulah Bankhead, Phil Silvers, and Jackie Gleason. He later started working in television for Sid Caesar when he joined the writing team of Your Show of Shows that included Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Larry Gelbart.

Stein made his Broadway debut contributing sketches written with Will Glickman to the 1948 revue Lend an Ear. His first book musical was Plain and Fancy, which opened on Broadway on January 27, 1955 and ran for 461 performances. 

His greatest success came from writing the book for the 1964 musical play Fiddler on the Roof, for which he won three major awards, including two Tonys. He later wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation.

Stein's additional Broadway credits include Alive and Kicking, Mr. Wonderful, The Body Beautiful, Juno, Take Me Along, Irene, Carmelina, The Baker's Wife, Rags, Enter Laughing and its musical adaptation, So Long, 174th Street. He also wrote the plays Mrs. Gibbons' Boys and Before the Dawn. He co-wrote, with Carl Reiner, the screenplay for the film adaptation of Enter Laughing. The Baker's Wife, written with Stephen Schwartz, was directed by Trevor Nunn in London in 1989 where it was nominated for an Olivier Award for Musical of the Year.

Antonio Banderas is said to be starring in an upcoming revival of Zorba for the 2010-2011 season.

Stein wrote the book for the musical All About Us, with a score by Kander and Ebb, based on The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder. It premiered at The Westport Country Playhouse in April 2007.

In January 2008, Joseph Stein was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame. He was honored by The Dramatists Guild of America with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 and by the York Theatre with the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre in 2007. Joseph Stein was awarded the prestigious York Theatre Company's Oscar Hammerstein Award for LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THEATRE in 2007.

Stein was a member of the Dramatists Guild Council from 1975 until his death. Stein had three sons, Daniel, Harry and Josh, from his first marriage to Sadie Singer Stein, who died in 1974. From his marriage to second wife Elisa Loti, he had a daughter, Jenny Lyn.


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