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Joseph Papp
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    (June 22, 1921-October 31, 1991)
    Born in Brooklyn, New York
    Birth name was Yosl Papirofsky
    Theater producer and director
    Founded Shakespeare in the Park (1954)
    Founded the Public Theater (1967)
    Notable Public Theater productions included ‘Hair’ (1967), ‘No Place to Be Somebody’ (1969), ‘Sticks and Bones’ (1971), ‘That Championship Season’ (1972), ‘for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf’ (1975), ‘A Chorus Line’ (1975) and ‘The Normal Heart’ (1985)
    He was married four times, divorced three times.
    He would yell at critics he spotted in the lobby of the Public Theater.
    He was a critic of ‘that old whore, Broadway,’ who depended on the proceeds from the Broadway run of ‘A Chorus Line’ to subsidize the Public Theater’s operations.
    He served in the Navy during World War II.
    He went with little or no pay during the early years of Shakespeare in the Park.
    His free Shakespeare in the Park shows inspired the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera to stage free performances of their own.
    He successfully faced down New York’s most powerful politician, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, when Moses demanded that he start charging admission (1959).
    He was a pioneer of non-traditional casting, being one of the first producers to cast minorities in Shakespeare and other classic plays..
    He lent his chauffeur-driven limo to take John Cazale to and from his cancer treatments.
    New York Times drama critic Frank Rich called him ‘the only giant left’ in theater.
    When he died, all of Broadway’s theaters dimmed their lights in tribute.

Credit: C. Fishel

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