Hal Prince, legendary Broadway director and producer, passed away at the age of 91 on July 31, 2019, according to broadwayworld.com.
Prince died after a brief illness in Reykjavik, Iceland, according to his publicist Rick Miramontez. During his career, which spanned six decaes, Prince racked up 21 Tony Awards — more than any other individual.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hal Was Born in New York City
According to IMDb, Harold Smith Prince was born on January 30, 1928, in New York City, New York to stockbroker Milton Prince and Blanche Stern Prince.
“We were privileged, upper-middle, lower-rich class, Jewish, both parents of German families which settled here soon after the Civil War,” Prince wrote in his memoir Contradictions.
Prince reportedly went on to receive his education at University of Pennsylvania. He was enrolled in the liberal arts program and became very involved in the student theater group, Penn Players.
After his graduating with a B.A. in English in 1948, Hal reportedly returned to New York, where he worked as an assistant stage manager to producer and director George Abbott. Prince went on to co-produce with Robert E. Griffith and Frederick Brisson, which resulted in the first two musicals that won Tony awards for Prince.
2. Hal Helped Shape the Broadway Musical
“The idea is to work and to experiment. Some things will be creatively successful, some will succeed at the box office, and some will only—which is the biggest only—teach you things that see the future,” Prince was quoted by Tribeca. “And they’re probably as valuable as any of your successes.”
According to the New York Times, Prince played an integral role in shaping the Broadway musical during the second half of the 20th century.
Prince is widely known for his contributions to the theatrical stage, producing classics like Damn Yankees (1955), West Side Story (1960), and Cabaret (1966), among others. Hal was seen as a creative innovator in the industry. He received the Tony Award for lifetime achievement he received in 2006.
“Most people have 1 or 2 big hits over their career,” reporter David Gordon said. “Then there’s Hal Prince, who had a hand in West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Phantom, Evita, Cabaret, Damn Yankees, Pajama Game, Forum, She Loves Me, Sweeney Todd. Name a theater. Dim the lights for months.”
3. Hal Leaves Behind a Wife, Two Children, and Several Grandchildren
Hal will be dearly missed by his family. According to IMDb, Hal married Judith Chaplin on October 26, 1962, and the two were married for 56 years. Hal and Judy had two children, their daughter, Daisy, and their son, Charles. Hal also had three grandchildren, Phoebe, Lucy, and Felix.
According to her Facebook page, Daisy Prince went on to study at Brown University and became a theater director. According to his website, Charles Prince studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and became a conductor.
In addition to his biological family, Hal’s theater family is also in mourning. “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our legendary director, Hal Prince,” The Phantom of the Opera wrote on Twitter. “Our condolences to his family at this time. With love, the entire Phamily.”
4. People Are Responding to the News on Social Media
New York Times reporter Michael Cooper remembered watching Hal during a rehearsal when he was 88 years old. He said it was an education.
Louis Peitzmann said, “Hal Prince was absolutely one of those theater legends I thought would live forever.”
Author Glen Weldon said that Hal “bestrode all of 20th-Century Broadway like a Colossus in a Dance Belt.”
Max Grossman shared a clip of what he considers the “most glorious moments in musical theatre history.”
Artist Al Hirschfeld posted an illustration of Hal with his iconic glasses perched atop his head.
Laura Brown said Hal Prince not only changed her life, he shaped it.
5. There Will Be No Funeral Per Hal’s Request
“As per his wishes, there will be no funeral but there will be a celebration of his life this fall with the people he loved most, the members of the theatrical community that he was a part of for seven decades,” Rick Miramontez said.