Martin Richards – or “Marty,” as those in the theater community called him – died of cancer Monday in New York City. Richards won an Academy Award in 2003 for producing that year’s Best Picture, Chicago. The Oscar was the culmination of Richards’s decades-long battle to bring that Kander and Ebb musical to movie theaters; it began in 1975, when Richards produced the show’s original Broadway production.
Of course, Chicago wasn’t Richards’s only project. The prolific stage producer – born Morton Richard Klein in the Bronx – was nominated for 10 Tony Awards throughout his career, winning for La Cage aux Folles (2004 revival), The Will Rogers Follies (1991), La Cage aux Folles (original 1983 production), and Sweeney Todd (1979). Richards also produced Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and the Gregory Peck Nazi thriller, The Boys from Brazil, as well.
Here’s a clip of Richards accepting his Oscar in 2002. Note the moment when someone from the audience reminds him to thank his wife, the late Johnson & Johnson heiress Mary Lea Johnson Richards – the voice in the crowd is Hilary Swank, who famously forgot to thank her own husband when she won her first Oscar in 2000.
The Broadway community will remember Richards tonight at 7 p.m., when the theater district’s marquees will be dimmed for exactly one minute.