Inscribed in raised gold letters on the walls of the upper rotundas of Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre are the names of the more than 500 members of the Theater Hall of Fame. It was founded in 1971 as a New York non-profit organization by Earl Blackwell, James M. Nederlander, Gerard Oestreicher and L. Arnold Weissberger. Though it initially enrolled large annual classes in order to catch up on theater history, in recent years eight inductees have been chosen annually by an electorate composed of members of the Hall of Fame, members of ATCA and selected other critics, historians and theater notables.
For information on the different activities of the Hall of Fame and a full list of members, go to its official web site.
NOTE that the Hall of Fame is institutionally unrelated to ATCA. It is independently produced by Terry Hodge Taylor. ATCA’s only connection is that ATCA member Chris Rawson chairs the nominating committee, as successor to ATCA founder Henry Hewes, and that members have the opportunity to make suggestions for the ballot and to vote for new inductees.
The minimum requirement for the c.50 names (actors, directors, designers, producers, playwrights and occasionally even a critic) that appear on each year’s ballot is at least five major theater credits spread over 25 or more years, although this latter requirement may be suspended in special cases. The ballot is drawn up by critics on the Hall of Fame board, who are always happy to receive suggestions. (Email suggestions to Terry Hodge Taylor.) Although almost all Hall members earned their fame on Broadway, selected off-Broadway or regional theater luminaries have been elected as well.
The annual result is an induction ceremony in November (since 2015; previously in late January), where each new Hall member is presented by another theater veteran, creating a mix of humor, nostalgia and sentiment. That event as well as the Hall of Fame itself, which also sponsors other educational activities, awards and exhibits, is led by Terry Hodge Taylor, who has been Executive Producer since 1989 and provides all producing, management and fundraising.
The Hall of Fame is supported solely by foundation, corporation and private contributions for its annual budget. ATCA provides no management or financial support. All inquiries about the Hall of Fame should be directed to its office in New York City at 212-307-1226 or by email to Terry Hodge Taylor.
Following are annual lists of recent inductees, with links to published descriptions of 18 of the past 19 induction ceremonies. Note that until 2015 the class inducted each January was that of the year before, when it was elected. Note also that some inductions have been posthumous, and some years there are additional inductions, not listed here but included in the published articles, voted by a special veterans’ committee.
After a delay caused by the 2020-2021 pandemic, 2021 inductees playwright Lynn Nottage, actor-playwright Anna Deavere Smith, composer Alan Menkin, set designer Bob Crowley, actor Leslie Uggams, and director Gerald Freedman (honored posthumously) were announced on June 14, 2021. The 50th anniversary induction ceremony is planned for November 15, 2021 at the Gershwin Theatre.
Bebe Neuwirth described Ann Reinking as having “oozed, slithered, exploded, wiggled and vaulted like a wondrous creature from our dreams.” What did I do” to earn induction, asked Michael Feingold: “I just kept writing for a half-century.” Other 2019 inductees included lighting designer Natasha Katz, performers Donna McKechnie and Andre De Shields, McCarter Theatre head (and playwright) Emily Mann, Goodspeed Musicals head Michael P. Price, and librettist Thomas Meehan. For a full account of the evening, click here.
Four actors, three playwrights, two directors, one artistic director and several educators — those were the inductees Nov. 12 in the 2018 class of the Theater Hall of Fame. That adds up to more than eight, but only because they were a multi-talented bunch. They were actors Christine Baranski, Cicely Tyson and Rene Auberjonois; actor-director Joe Mantello; playwrights David Henry Hwang, Maria Irene Fornes and Adrienne Kennedy; and, posthumously, Signature Theatre founder James Houghton. For a full account of the evening. click here.
The eight inductees on Nov. 13 were actors Audra McDonald, Marin Mazzie and Matthew Broderick, playwrights Tina Howe and Arthur Kopit, producers Oskar Eustis and Daryl Roth, and Ernie Schier (1918-1999) — theater critic, co-founder of ATCA and founder of the National Critics Institute at the O’Neill Theater Center. Ernie’s induction speech was by the O’Neill’s George White. Click here for a comprehensive story on the event. For a special treat, click here for Tony Kushner’s speech inducting Eustis that wowed the audience.
This year’s eight Theater Hall of Fame inductees included three actors and a producer, designer, lyricist, librettist and librettist/playwright. Inductee playwright Marsha Norman was presented by Christopher Durang; producer Paul Libin by Jordan Roth; Phylicia Rashad by her sister, Debbie Allen; librettist Joe Masteroff by composer Howard Marren; Brian Stokes Mitchell by William Berlind; designer Catherine Zuber by Bartlett Sher; and speaking for inductee Glenn Close, not present because she was starring in “Sunset Boulevard” in London, was Lonny Price. Inductee Sir Tim Rice was given the most entertaining presentation, by his children, Donald and Eva, who focused on the “mishaps, disasters and ineptitude” of his career, to which he happily assented. To read more about what they all had to say, click here.
At its 45th induction ceremony, the Hall of Fame welcomed Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (inducted by Alfred Uhrey), Ken Billington (Susan Stroman), Merle Debuskey (Philip Birsh), Robert Falls (Roche Schulfer), Stacy Keach (Harris Yulin), Tony Kushner (Linda Emond), Roger Rees (Rick Elice) and Julie Taymor (Thomas Schumacher). Kushner expressed his own amazement at being chosen by quoting Yip Harburg’s lyrics from “The Wizard of Oz,” when Dorothy is introduced to the Emerald City: “You’ll be hist, you’ll be hist, you’ll be history / You’ll be a bust, you’ll be a bust, you’ll be a bust in the hall of fame.” Full story here.
Actors F. Murray Abraham (inducted by Brian Kulick), Blythe Danner (Lynne Meadow) and Alvin Epstein (Cherry Jones); directors Marshall Mason (John Lee Beatty) and Susan Stroman (Andre Bishop); playwright Alfred Uhry (Dana Ivey); producer Philip J. Smith (Robert Wankel, pinch-hitting for Bernadette Peters); and a rarity, a critic, Frank Rich (Rocco Landesman); the emcee was Pia Lindstrom. Ms. Stroman got the biggest response of the night, thanking everyone who’d given her a leg up along the way, because, she said, “we know no matter how much we love the theater, it can still take you into a back alley and beat the [expletive] out of you.” Full story: F. Murray Abrahm, Blythe Danner, Susan Stroman among inductees to Theatre Hall of Fame in NYC.
Ellen Burstyn (inducted by Betty Buckley), Lorraine Hansberry (posthumously, by Phylicia Rashad), David Hays (daughter Julia Hays), Cherry Jones (Zachary Quinto), Cameron Mackintosh (in absentia, by Robert Wankel), Lynne Meadow (Sarah Jessica Parker), George C. Wolfe Jr. (John Guare) and Jerry Zaks (Jack Viertel). Emcee was Joel Grey. Full story: Theater world fetes stage greats with Hall of Fame inductions.
Andre Bishop, Betty Buckley, Christopher Durang, Michael Kahn, Trevor Nunn, Paula Vogel, Sam Waterston and the late Martin Pakledinaz. The inductors included Ellen Burstyn, Susan Stroman, Christine Baranski, Jon Robin Baitz, Bernie Gersten, Susan Hilferty, Kristine Nielsen and Sarah Ruhl. Full story: Theater Hall of Fame welcomes new class of inductees.
Tyne Daly, Woodie King Jr. Elliot Martin, Ann Roth, Paul Sills, Daniel Sullivan, Ben Vereen, and George White. The list of inductors was even starrier: Phylicia Rashad, Brian Dennehy, Donald Margulies, Meryl Streep, Liza Minnelli, Jane Alexander and Brian Murray, with Estelle Parsons as emcee. Full story: Theater Hall of Fame inducts 8 with reminiscence and laughter.
Michael Blakemore, Joseph Chaikin, Caryl Churchill, Brian Dennehy, Paul Gemignani, Jams Lapine, Linda Lavin and Fritz Weaver; also veterans Alice Childress, Henry Irving, Philip Moeller and Florence Reed. Full story: Fritz Weaver among Theater Hall of Fame inductees.
Roger Berlind, Jim Dale, Charles Ludlum, Ted Mann, John McMartin, Lynn Redgrave, Stephen Schwartz and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Full story: CMU’s Stephen Schwartz, 7 others join Theater Hall of Fame.
Alan Ayckbourn, Emanuel Azenberg, Patricia Birch, Roscoe Lee Browne, Richard Easton, Marvin Hamlisch, Nathan Lane and Jonathan Tunick; also veterans Mordecai Gorelik. Bronson Howard, Celia Lipton, Louisa Medina and Boris Thomashevsky. Full story: Lane, Hamlisch among Theater Hall of Fame inductees.
Harvey Fierstein, Dana Ivey, Peter Shaffer, Joseph Stein, Jack O’Brien, John Cullum, Mel Gussow and Lois Smith. Full story: Hall of Fame: theater veterans get a night in limelight
Brian Friel, George Hearn, Willa Kim, Eugene Lee, Patti Lupone, Wendy Wasserstein, August Wilson and Elizabeth Wilson; also veterans Daniel Frohman, Owen Davis, Thomas Abthorpe Cooper and Sanford Meisner. Full story: Theater Hall of Fame honors August Wilson, seven others
Graciela Danielle, Ben Edwards, William Gibson, Peter Hall, John Lithgow, Dorothy Loudon, Sada Thompson and William Ivey Long. Full story: Theater Hall of Fame inducts Thompson, Lithgow, others
Len Cariou, A.R. Gurney, Gregory Hines, Santo Loquasto, Elizabeth McCann, Ian McKellen, Brian Murray and Estelle Parsons; also veterans Rachel Crothers, Susan Glaspell, Billy Rose and Diana Sands. Full story: Stage veterans receive praise at induction
Julian Beck & Judith Malina, Jane Greenwood, Madeline Kahn, Kevin Kline, Patricia Neal, Vanessa Redgrave, Peter Stone and Richard Wilbur. Full story: Theater honors put women in the spotlight
John Lee Beatty, Stockard Channing, Larry Gelbart, Bernard Gersten, Tammy Grimes, Frank Langella, David Mamet and Jean Stapleton; also veterans Dion Boucicault, Canada Lee, Jacob Adler and Cleon Throckmorton. Full story: Role Call: New class celebrates induction into Theater Hall of Fame
Robert Brustein, Alvin Colt, Peter Gennaro, George Grizzard, T. Edward Hambleton, Henry Hewes, Isabelle Stevenson and Charles Strouse. Full story: Hall of Fame inducts ensemble of stage pioneers among friends
Mary Alice, Robert Fryer, Athol Fugard, Otis Guernsey, June Havoc, Jon Jory, Nancy Marchand and Liza Minnelli. Full story: Theater family comes together to celebrate Hall of Fame honorees
Gordon Davidson, Hal Holbrook, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Robert Morse, Jerry Orbach, Frances Sternhagen, Tom Stoppard, Teresa Wright. [No published account available.]
Alexander H. Cohen, Charles Durning, Zelda Fichandler, Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt, Richard Kiley, Ellis Rabb and Robin Wagner. Full story: Theater Hall of fame inductees reminisce about days of glory, passion