Kermit Bloomgarden - Career


Bloomgarden transitioned into theater after meeting Arthur Beckhard at a 1932 dinner party, who convinced Bloomgarden, as he later recounted, that "the theater was for me". He worked for Beckhard as his general manager, before accepting the same position with Herman Shumlin. In his ten years with Shumlin, he helped produce a number of Lillian Hellman's plays, including The Children's Hour (1934), The Little Foxes (1939), and Watch on the Rhine (1942), and The Lark (1952), Hellman's English-language version of the play L'Alouette by Jean Anouilh. Bloomgarden also mounted Hellman's last play Toys in the Attic (1960).

His first producing effort was Heavenly Express (1940), starring John Garfield, which closed shortly after it opened. His first hit was Deep Are the Roots (1945), followed by Hellman's Another Part of the Forest (1946). Command Decision (1947) written by William Wister Haines, followed, with Paul Kelly sharing the Best Actor Tony Award that year for his performance and James Whitmore earning the Tony for "Best Performance by a Newcomer". Bloomgarden had a major string of success that culminated with the February 1949 opening of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, which earned a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

The winning streak ended with Lillian Hellman's works Montserrat (1949) and The Autumn Garden (1950), but he got back on track with a revival of Hellman's The Children's Hour soon thereafter. Bloomgarden produced Arthur Miller's modestly successful A View From the Bridge (1955), followed by The Most Happy Fella (1956), starring Robert Weede, and The Diary of Anne Frank (1957).

In November 1957, Bloomgarden opened Look Homeward, Angel, based on the novel by Thomas Wolfe. Ketti Frings, better known for her screenplays, wrote the play, and George Roy Hill, who had worked mostly in television, directed. The show made Anthony Perkins a star.

Read more about this topic:  Kermit Bloomgarden

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