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Broadway Producer Morton Gottlieb Dies at 88
Starting his career as a Broadway producer in 1954 with the original play His and Hers, Gottlieb was as well known for his loyalty to authors and investors, as he was for importing original comedies and thrillers. Gottlieb's punctual repayment of investors made history when, in 1978, his production of Tribute starring Jack Lemmon was so successful that he repaid investors at the opening night party.
One of his longest-running hits, Sleuth, won a Tony Award for best play in 1971, and centered on a vengeful mystery novelist and his wife's lover playing a series of deadly games.
The small cast and easily relatable human experiences in Gottlieb's plays continued with Bernard Slade's Same Time, Next Year (1975), a romantic comedy which ran for 1,453 performances and Ellen Burstyn won a best-actress Tony.
Gottlieb, known for fostering playwrights, produced three more plays by Slade–Special Occasions, Romantic Comedy, and Tribute. His other notable productions included Five Finger Exercise, The Best Man, Enter Laughing, The Killing of Sister George, and Lovers..
Gottlieb's thrifty habits are well remembered by his niece, Hildy Gottlieb Hill, who told the Times "when I worked for him, you had to reuse an envelope." His 1968 production of Lovers with Art Carney, required a bicycle, and the theater bought two bikes in case one broke. In 1995 Gottlieb was "still riding that understudy" bicycle around Manhattan to keep from splurging on subways and taxis, according to an interview with the Times.
The Brooklyn-born producer was famous for his crowd-pleasing light romances and comedies. While Gottlieb did make a couple forays into film, acting as producer on movie versions of Sleuth, Same Time, Next Year and Romantic Comedy, these dimmed in comparison to his successful Broadway thrillers and comedies. Gottlieb was never married; his closest surviving relatives are his niece Ms. Hill, a talent agent in Beverly Hills, his sister-in-law Claire Gottlieb, of Manhattan, and Wendy Gottlieb, of Southampton, N.Y.
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