American Theater Hall of Fame

The American Theater Hall of Fame in New York City was founded in 1972. Earl Blackwell was the first head of the organization's Executive Committee. In an announcement in 1972, he said that the new Theater Hall of Fame would be located in the Uris Theatre (then under construction, now the Gershwin). James M. Nederlander and Gerard Oestreicher, who leased the theater, donated the space for the Hall of Fame; Arnold Weissberger was another founder. Blackwell noted that the names of the first honorees would "be embossed in bronze-gold lettering on the theater's entrance walls flanking its grand staircase and escalator."[1] The first group of inductees was announced in October 1972.[2]

Eligible inductees come from disciplines including actors, playwrights, song writers, designers, directors, and producers who have had a career in American theater for at least twenty-five years and, at least five major production credits on Broadway.[3][4] This has since been modified. Selections are made each year by voting members of the Theater Hall of Fame and the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA). Induction takes place at a ceremony at the Gershwin Theatre in New York City, where the plaques containing the names of the inductees are hung.[5]

Since 1998, full accounts of the annual induction ceremonies, with quotes from both inductees and their presenters, have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. An index to these articles is on the ATCA website. An annual Theater Hall of Fame Fellowship Luncheon has been held annually since 2004[3] to salute a member "who continues to work on Broadway and also presents grants to emerging theatre artists."[6]


Original members

The following is a list of the original members of the Hall of Fame.[2][4] For other members, see the full list at the Hall of Fame official website.

Founders Award

An annual Theater Hall of Fame Founders Award, established in 1993 in honor of the 3 founders, recognizes an individual's outstanding contribution to the theatre.[7][3]


  • 1993 James Nederlander
  • 1994 Kitty Carlisle Hart
  • 1995 Harvey Sabinson
  • 1996 Henry Hewes
  • 1997 Otis L. Guernsey Jr.
  • 1998 Edward Colton
  • 1999 (No award)
  • 2000 Gerard Oestreicher
  • 2000 Arnold Weissberger
  • 2001 Tom Dillon
  • 2002 (No award)
  • 2003 Price Berkley
  • 2004 (No award)
  • 2005 Donald Seawell
  • 2007 Roy A. Somlyo
  • 2008 Shirley Herz


  1. Calta, Louis. "A Hall of Fame for the Theater To Honor Outstanding Figures", The New York Times, March 7, 1972, ISSN 0362-4331, p. 45
  2. "Uris Hall of Fame Names First Group" (PDF). The New York Times. October 27, 1972.
  3. Theatre Hall of Fame,, accessed September 19, 2016
  4. Hodges, Ben (2009). The Theater Hall of Fame. Theatre World (2008-2009). 65. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 393–394. ISBN 978-1423473695.
  5. "Hall of Fame: theater veterans get a night in limelight",Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 30, 2008
  6. Gans, Andrew. "Bernadette Peters, Bebe Neuwirth, Stephen Schwartz Will Salute Joel Grey at Theater Hall of Fame Luncheon" Archived January 9, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Playbill, May 29, 2012
  7. Willis, John. "The Theater Hall of Fame Founders Award"Theater World 2001-2002, Volume 58, Hal Leonard Corporation, 2004, ISBN 1-55783-625-6, p. 210

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