This last year has been tough for all of us. We have seen the loss of some special people in our lives across the country and the world. The Broadway theater family has not been immune to these losses. In December 2020, the theater community lost a legend in Roger Berlind at the age of 90.
With over 100 shows to his credit, Berlind will not only be remembered for his prolific successes on Broadway, but also as a man whose love for theater sustained him after a tragedy caused the death of his wife and three of his children.
Who Was Roger Berlind?
Roger Berlin began his theater career initially as a songwriter, although he did not see much success in that area. His monumental success came later in his role as a Broadway Producer.
Over the course of four decades, Berlind would produce well over a hundred shows and was awarded 25 Tony Awards for shows such as: Amadeus, Dear Evan Hansen, The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night Time, Death of a Salesman, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Hello Dolly, Kiss Me Kate, the Book of Mormon, and Oklahoma.
Prior to the shuttering of theaters due to the pandemic, Mr. Berlind was represented on Broadway with the Tony-nominated musical Mean Girls, which opened in April 2018 at the August Wilson Theatre. (Photo courtesy of Princeton.edu)
Heartbreak and Perseverance
The Brooklyn-born New Yorker was not always so connected to Broadway. In his early years, he could not find a sure footing in the theater industry as a songwriter. Due to that, he left the bright lights of the theater district and traded his songwriting in for the fast deals of Wall Street.
During his very successful time as a financial broker on Wall Street, he became a brokerage partner with Carter, Berlind, Potoma & Weill. Sadly, it was during that time that his wife and three of his four children perished in a tragic plane crash in his beloved New York City. This event would change the trajectory of his life.
The death of his wife and children forced him to look deeper into the meaning of life and what was most important. Making money on Wall Street no longer seemed so desirable, but producing shows on Broadway was the new career path that would give his life meaning after such a catastrophic loss.
The Legend of Berlind
Mr. Berlind will be remembered not only for his amazing productions as a titan of the theater, but as a man who touched every audience member through his love of the theater.
A 2009 inductee into the American Theater Hall of Fame, Berlind is survived by his second wife Brook and his aforementioned son William, as well as his brother Alan and three granddaughters.