Gerald Schoenfeld, American’s most influential theater owner, died today at 84. The New York native ran the powerful Shubert Organization for 36 years, heading 17 Broadway theaters, doling out millions, and co-producing Cats, Amadeus, and Les Miserables. Though his cherubic face put observers in mind of a teddy bear, Schoenfeld’s business flourished from his demanding, and at times cunning, nature, the New York Times reports.
Schoenfeld dethroned a Shubert heir to take over a struggling organization in 1972. With the aid of a tax loophole and early hits Equus, Pippin, and A Chorus Line, he gained a financial footing to transform Broadway. The trained lawyer was a World War II veteran who said he probably would have just made fur coats had his father’s business not failed.