Joseph Stein

Date of Death: October 24, 2010 (98)

Birth Place: New York, NY, USA

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Joseph Stein BIO

Joseph Stein was a prolific American playwright and librettist, best known for his work on the beloved musicals Fiddler on the Roof and Zorba. Born on May 30, 1912, in New York City, Stein grew up in the Bronx and attended City College of New York. After graduating, he worked as a social worker and then as a writer for the Army Air Force during World War II.

Stein began his career in theater as a writer for radio and television in the 1940s and 1950s, but it was his work on Broadway that earned him the most acclaim. His first Broadway credit was as a co-writer on the musical Plain and Fancy in 1955, but it was his collaboration with composer Jerry Bock and lyricist Sheldon Harnick on Fiddler on the Roof that established him as a major force in the theater world.

Fiddler on the Roof, which opened on Broadway in 1964, tells the story of Tevye, a Jewish milkman in early 20th-century Russia, and his struggles to maintain his traditions in the face of changing times. The show was a critical and commercial success, running for over 3,000 performances and winning nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Stein's book for the show, which was based on the stories of Sholem Aleichem, is widely regarded as one of the greatest in the history of musical theater.

Stein went on to collaborate with Bock and Harnick on several more musicals, including The Apple Tree and She Loves Me. He also wrote the book for Zorba, a musical adaptation of the novel Zorba the Greek, which opened on Broadway in 1968 and starred Anthony Quinn. Although Zorba was not as successful as Fiddler, it received positive reviews and has since become a cult favorite among musical theater enthusiasts.

In addition to his work on Broadway, Stein wrote for television and film. He wrote the screenplay for the 1971 film adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof, which was directed by Norman Jewison and starred Topol as Tevye. He also wrote for the television series Mister Peepers and The Phil Silvers Show.

Stein continued to work in the theater throughout his life, writing plays and musicals up until his death in 2010 at the age of 98. His other notable works include Enter Laughing, a play based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Carl Reiner, and Rags, a musical about Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Stein was known for his wit and his ability to capture the human experience in his writing. In a 2001 interview with The New York Times, he said, "I think the theater is a way of expressing what's going on in the world and what's going on in people's hearts. It's a way of communicating on a very deep level, and that's what I've always tried to do with my work."

Stein's contributions to the world of musical theater have been recognized with numerous awards and honors. He was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1994, and in 2008, the Tony Awards honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. His legacy lives on through his timeless works, which continue to be performed and beloved by audiences around the world.

Joseph Stein Photos

Joseph Stein Productions

[Broadway, 2015]
[West End, 1976]
Book Revisions
[Broadway, 1973]
Book Revisions
[Broadway, 1968]


Source Material

Joseph Stein Movies

[1962]Mrs. Gibbons' Boys writer

[1967]Enter Laughing producer

[1971]Fiddler on the Roof writer

Joseph Stein Awards and Nominations

Tony Awards - 1965 - Best Musical

Joseph Stein, Fiddler on the Roof

Joseph Stein Videos

Joseph Stein News

Tickets on Sale Now for FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Drury Lane Theatre

Tickets are now on sale for Drury Lane Theatre's production of Fiddler on the Roof. Don't miss this acclaimed and beloved musical masterpiece featuring music by Jerry Bock, book by Joseph Stein, and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.

Leslie Odom Jr., Arielle Jacobs & More to Join The Drama League EMBRACE THE SEASON Gala

Get ready for a night of incredible performances at The Drama League 'Embrace The Season' Gala. Join Leslie Odom Jr., Arielle Jacobs, and other talented artists as they take the stage for an unforgettable evening. Don't miss out on this star-studded event!

Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Theatre Harrisburg

Every aspect of this production is beautifully designed. This cast brings the people of Anatevka to life. Their harmonies are gorgeous, and they execute the choreography with precision and grace. Theater Harrisburg’s Fiddler on the Roof is a production you do not want to miss. It is filled not only with talent, but with heart.

The Muny Unveils 106th Season Featuring LES MISERABLES, DREAMGIRLS, WAITRESS & More

The Muny has revealed the seven show lineup for its 106th Season. The season, bursting with premieres, comedies, romance and magic, opens June 17, 2024 and runs through August 25, 2024.

Jordan Gelber, Jill Abramovitz, Alexandra Socha, Etai Benson & More to Star in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Paper Mill Playhouse

Paper Mill Playhouse has revealed the cast and creative team for its holiday season production of the beloved musical Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Paper Mill Playhouse’s Producing Artistic Director Mark S. Hoebee.

Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Hale Centre Theatre

Hale Centre Theatre's production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, directed by Cambrian James, brings magic to the classic with full-bodied, robust-sounding voices and solid performances by its leads.

Annaleigh Ashford, Lindsay Mendez, Norm Lewis & More To Join The Drama League's EMBRACE THE SEASON Gala

Annaleigh Ashford, Lindsay Mendez, Norm Lewis, Danny Burstein, and more will be performing at The Drama League's 'Embrace The Season' Gala.

Review: It's a Match with FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at City Springs Theatre Company

What did our critic think of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at City Springs Theatre Company?

Ethan Watermeier & Rachel Stern to Star in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Olney Theatre Center

Discover Olney Theatre Center's production of 'Fiddler on the Roof' with a fresh global perspective. This timeless musical explores themes of rising anti-Semitism, Russian aggression, refugee crises, and women's struggles against patriarchal authority. Don't miss this captivating show running from November 8 to December 31 in Olney, Maryland.

Wilmington's Opera House Theatre Company Announces 2024 Season

Opera House Theatre Company has announced its 2024 season, celebrating 39 years of producing live theatre in Wilmington, North Carolina at Historic Thalian Hall featuring a variety of titles including some classics and Wilmington premieres!

Stephen Schwartz Confirms London Revival of THE BAKER'S WIFE in 2024

Composer Stephen Schwartz has revealed that his 1976 musical The Baker’s Wife will receive a major London revival next summer.

PCS Theater to Present FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Next Month

PCS Theater has announced its production of the beloved musical Fiddler on the Roof, running from September 8th to 30th on the Players Club of Swarthmore  Main Stage. This timeless classic, with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and a book by Joseph Stein, continues to captivate audiences with its poignant story of tradition, love, and resilience.

Off-Broadway Premiere of OUT OF THE APPLE ORCHARD Set for September at Actors Temple Theatre

Don't miss the Off-Broadway premiere of 'Out Of The Apple Orchard' at Actors Temple Theatre from September 10-14. Get ready to be captivated by this enchanting tale of forgiveness and new beginnings. Book your tickets now!

Christine Ebersole, Norm Lewis, Andrew Rannells & More to Headline York Theatre Company Gala

Get all the details on the star-studded lineup for York Theatre Company's 31st Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala, including Christine Ebersole, Norm Lewis, Andrew Rannells, and more. Find out when and where the event will take place.

After Tremendous Success in Rio International Megahit MAMMA MIA! Opens in Sao Paulo

Mamma Mia! is a jukebox musical based on songs recorded by Swedish group ABBA. The heroine of the show is Donna, who keeps a tavern on a small Greek island and plans to marry Sophie, her daughter. Trying to figure out who her father is, Sophie invites the three most likely candidates to the wedding, setting the scene for farcical complications.

York Theatre Company Will Honor Patti LuPone and Jamie DeRoy at Gala Evening This November

The York Theatre Company will honor musical theater legend Patti LuPone with the 2023 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theater and producer Jamie deRoy with The York Theatre Company Founders' Award at the 31st Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala.

The Ritz Theatre Company Gears Up For Dynamic 2023-2024 Season Featuring WEST SIDE STORY, HEATHERS, And More

The Ritz Theatre Company gets set to go big in the months ahead, officially announcing a bold, new season beginning in September that reinforces the organization's ongoing commitment to 'embracing diversity in our stories and those who share them.'

Review: THE BAKER'S WIFE at The Alchemy Theatre

Gifting yourself with the talent that makes up this cast is worth the visit, though one must consider the evening will be long based on pacing issues within the show. Nonetheless, it is easy to see the promise in Alchemy Theatre’s production of THE BAKER’S WIFE.

Samuel D. Hunter, Sanaz Toossi and More Receive 2023 Dramatists Guild Awards

The Dramatists Guild of America has announced the first recipients of their 2023 Awards. Learn how to purchase tickets!


Joseph Stein has written 24 shows including Irene (Bookwriter), Lend an Ear (Sketches), Mrs. Gibbons' Boys (Playwright), Alive and Kicking (Bookwriter), Plain and Fancy (Bookwriter), Mr. Wonderful (Bookwriter), Jamaica (Bookwriter), The Body Beautiful (Bookwriter), Juno (Bookwriter), Take Me Along (Bookwriter), Enter Laughing (Playwright), Fiddler on the Roof (Bookwriter), Zorba (Bookwriter), So Long, 174th Street (Source Material), The Baker's Wife (Bookwriter), Hellzapoppin (Bookwriter), King of Hearts (Bookwriter), Carmelina (Bookwriter), Rags (Bookwriter), Jerome Robbins' Broadway (Bookwriter), Rags:Children of the Wind (Bookwriter), Over and Over (Bookwriter), Take Me Along (Bookwriter), Enter Laughing: The Musical (Bookwriter).

Joseph Stein has been nominated for several awards throughout his career. He was nominated for Best Book of a Musical at the Tony Awards for the musical "Rags." He was also nominated for Best Musical at the New York Drama Critics Circle Awards and the Tony Awards for the beloved musical "Fiddler on the Roof."

Joseph Stein has won several awards for his work in the Broadway musical "Fiddler on the Roof." He received the Best Musical award from the New York Drama Critics Circle Awards and the Tony Awards for his contribution to the show.

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