Gerald Schoenfeld: Longtime chairman of the Shubert Organization dies, aged 84

Gerald Schoenfeld, longtime chairman
of the Shubert Organization, died of a heart attack at his home in Manhattan, he was 84 years old.

The Shubert Organization owns and operates 17 Broadway theaters, more than any other organisation on Broadway.

Schoenfeld was born in the City of New York on 22 Sep 1924. He graduated from the university of Illinois, fought in WWII, and then went on to earn a law degree from New York University.

Schoenfeld joined the Shubert company in 1950, at the invite of J. J. Shubert, one of the three Shubert brothers who founded the organisation, and eventually became chairman in 1972. He shared responsibility of running the Shubert Organization with his business partner Bernard Jacobs, until Jacons' death in 1996.

Bradoway was going through a difficult time in the 70's Broadway was facing an economic downturn, and some accredited Schoenfeld (along with his partner Bernard Jacobs) with saving not just the failing fortunes of the Shubert Organisation, but the reputation of Broadway itself.

The fortunes of the organisation turned when they acquisitioned the shows 'Pippin,' 'Equus' and 'A Chorus Line.' Especially 'A chorus Line' which ran for for 15 years, becoming the longest running American show in Broadway history.

He, along with Jacobs, took an active role in deciding which plays would perform in Shubert theatres, when they would open and when they would close. He also invloved himself in casting, actively encouraging stars to the Broadway stage.

The Shubert Organization's Plymouth Theatre was named after Gerald Schoenfeld in 2004.

Rocco Landesman, president of the rival Jujamcyn Theaters said that when Schoenfeld assumed the chairmanship, �The Shubert Organization was in a state of disarray, the commercial theater was in jeopardy, and what Gerry did, along with Bernie Jacobs, was put it on a sound business footing.�

"He really saved commercial theater,� Landesman added. �The Broadway theater as we now know it is largely the achievement of Gerry Schoenfeld.�

Landesman said of his friend �God knows he could be exasperating, but he was my best friend in the business.�

Schoenfeld is survived by his wife of 58 years, Pat; a brother, Irving; a daughter, Carrie Schoenfeld-Guglielmi; and two grandchildren.

Originally published on