Wednesday, June 19, 2024

RIP Phil Smith, 89, Longtime Head of the Shubert Organization, a Broadway Star in His Own Right


Phil Smith, the long time head of the Shubert Organization, and a Broadway star in his own right, has died at age 89. The cause was COVID.

I’m lucky to say I knew Phil a long time myself, he was incredibly friendly and gracious to me. He was a sounding board when I was writing about Broadway, or just gossiping about what was going on.

He was an elegant, worldly gentleman who loved theater, loved everything about the Great Way so much that the last ten years, as his health declined, he continued to come almost every opening night even in a wheelchair. I must say, I felt better when I knew he was in the theater before the curtain went up.

“How’s this one, Phil?” I’d ask him before the show started. Sometimes he’d say, “You’ll see,” with a wink. If the Shuberts were invested in it, he might say, “You’re really going to like this, Roger.”

There are only a few people left from this generation now that Phil, and Roger Berlind– the great producer who passed last month– are gone. Even though there is no Broadway now, it will return, and we will never forget these guys who made our lively entertainment so enjoyable.

Condolences to Phil’s family and friends, and admirers, who are numerous. Please read Phil’s NY Times obit here.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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