William Wolf | COVID-19 hits home
Members of the Drama Desk Awards organization, celebrating New York theatrical productions since 1955, were informed March 31 of the passing of one of their leaders. William Wolf was a marvelous, warm, charming, intellectual bear of a man. It was always a thrill to see him in the theater — always full of excitement about shows recently seen and shows on his agenda, and sometimes, soto voce, bursting with initial impressions of the show we were currently seeing, post show or during intermission.
I haven’t yet grasped the magnitude of this loss to our shared organizations the Drama Desk and ATCA, and the loss to my personal experience of theater in New York City. — Martha Wade Steketee
Drama Desk co-presidents Charles Wright and David Barbour, sent the following to Drama Desk members within days of Wolf’s passing. Several national obituaries are listed at the end of this passage.
Dear Drama Desk Members: We are writing to inform you that our former president William Wolf died from complications related to COVID-19 on Saturday, March 28. Author, critic, and educator, William was the 22nd president of the Drama Desk. He also served a term as chair of the New York Film Critics Circle. William was part of a golden age in magazine journalism in New York. Beginning in 1964, he was film critic for Cue Magazine. When Cue was absorbed into New York Magazine, he became an editor and critic there. In the 1980s, his film criticism and features were syndicated by Gannett. William is author of The Marx Brothers (1975), a volume of the Pyramid Illustrated History of the Movies, and, with his wife, Lillian Kramer Wolf, of Landmark Films: The Cinema and Our Century (1979). As an academic, he had a long association with New York University, teaching film-related classes in multiple departments. In recent years, he conducted a popular movie preview class at Lincoln Center, where he screened and discussed soon-to-to-be-released motion pictures and interviewed filmmakers and actors. Throughout his career, William was a prolific interviewer. His taped conversations with actors, directors, and other film and theater artists are included in the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound at the New York Library of the Performing Arts. As yet, no funeral or memorial plans are being announced, and Bill’s family hasn’t designated a preferred recipient or recipients of memorial gifts. We will provide further information when it is available, and the Drama Desk will plan an appropriate celebration of William’s life, and of all he has meant to our organization and members, when the coronavirus crisis has abated.