Stein, Joseph 1912-
STEIN, Joseph 1912-
PERSONAL: Born May 30, 1912, in New York, NY; son of Charles and Emma (Rosenblum) Stein; married Sadie Singer (died, 1974); married Elisa Loti (a psychotherapist and former actress), 1976; children: Daniel, Harry, Joshua; stepchildren: John, Jenny Lyn. Education: City College (now City College of the City University of New York), B.S.S., 1935; Columbia University, M.S.W., 1937.
ADDRESSES: Office—1130 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10128; fax 212-410-3458. Agent—Paramuse Artists, 1414 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Playwright. Psychiatric social worker, 1939-45; writer for radio, television, and stage, beginning 1946.
MEMBER: Dramatists Guild (member of executive council), Authors League.
AWARDS, HONORS: Antoinette Perry Award nominations, for book of a musical, 1960, for Take Me Along, and for best musical, 1969, for Zorba, and 1987, for Rags; Antoinette Perry Award for best musical, New York Drama Critics Award, Newspaper Guild Award, all 1965, and Screen Writers Guild award, 1972, all for Fiddler on the Roof; Laurence Olivier award nomination, 1989, for The Baker's Wife.
(With Will Glickman) Mrs. Gibbons' Boys (three-act comedy; produced on Broadway, 1949), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1958.
Enter Laughing (two-act comedy; based on the autobiography by Carl Reiner; produced on Broadway, 1963; also see below), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1963, reprinted, 1984.
Before Dawn (adaptation of the play A Ladies' Tailor by Aleksandr Borshchagovsky), produced in New York, NY, 1985.
MUSICALS; AUTHOR OF LIBRETTO
(With Will Glickman) Lend an Ear, produced in New York, NY, 1948.
(With Will Glickman) Alive and Kicking, produced on Broadway, 1950.
(With Will Glickman) Inside U.S.A. produced in New York, NY, 1951.
(With Will Glickman) Plain and Fancy (produced on Broadway, 1955), Random House (New York, NY), 1955.
(With Will Glickman) Mr. Wonderful (produced on Broadway, 1956), Hart Stenographic Bureau (New York, NY), 1956.
(With Will Glickman) The Body Beautiful (produced on Broadway, 1958), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1958.
Juno (based on Sean O'Casey's play Juno and the Paycock; produced on Broadway, 1959), Hart Stenographic Bureau (New York, NY), 1959.
(With Robert Russell) Take Me Along, produced on Broadway, 1959.
Fiddler on the Roof (musical; based on short stories by Sholom Aleichem; produced on Broadway, 1964; also see below), Crown (New York, NY), 1965.
(With Hugh Wheeler and others) Irene, produced on Broadway, 1973.
(With Stan Daniels) So Long, 174th Street, produced in New York, NY, 1976.
King of Hearts (based on the film of the same name), produced on Broadway, 1978.
(With Alan Jay Lerner) Carmelina (based on the film Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell), produced on Broadway, 1979.
The Baker's Wife (based on a 1937 French film), produced in New York, 1985, produced in London, 1989.
Rags (musical), music by Charles Strouse, produced on Broadway, 1986.
Miracles, produced 1999.
Over and Over, produced in Washington, DC, 1999.
Author of scripts for radio shows, including Raleigh's Room, 1948-49, Henry Morgan Show, 1949-52, and Kraft Music Hall; and television shows, including Your Show of Shows, 1952-54, and Sid Caesar Show, 1954-55.
SCREENPLAYS; ADAPTED FROM HIS MUSICALS
Enter Laughing, Columbia, 1967.
Fiddler on the Roof, United Artists, 1971.
SIDELIGHTS: Playwright Joseph Stein began his career as a playwright on Broadway penning several popular comedies with fellow writer Will Glickman. His first musical, Plain and Fancy, took his career on a turn, however, when he found the genre suited him. Mr. Wonderful, a musical featuring a young Sammy Davis, followed, and although several subsequent plays did not fare well with New York critics, Stein is credited with the libretti for two of the most popular musicals of the mid-twentieth century: Zorba and the Tony Award-winning Fiddler on the Roof.
Stein once told CA: "I, in a career that spans four decades, have been connected with some of Broadway's biggest hits—Fiddler on the Roof, Zorba, Enter Laughing, Take Me Along, etc.—as well as some major disappointments, notably the musical Rags.
"My work deals largely with the relationships and emotional drives of basic, unsophisticated 'simple' people . . . —the Jews of the Russian 'shtetl' in Fiddler on the Roof; the Greek peasants of Zorba; the Amish of Plain and Fancy; the poor Dubliners of Juno; the immigrants of Rags; the French country folk of The Baker's Wife—their conflicts, their struggles, their romances. My tone is generally warm-hearted, affectionate and laced with humor.
"Ironically, both my major successes, Fiddler on the Roof, which continues to play all over the world, and perhaps my major disappointment, Rags, dealt with the Jewish experience, and in a sense, followed each other chronologically. As Fiddler on the Roof ended with the central characters leaving for America, Rags opens with the central characters arriving on these shores.
"Although Fiddler on the Roof had some difficulty getting produced (there was much concern that it would only appeal to a narrow ethnic audience) its subsequent history was most successful. Rags, on the other hand, was felled at the outset by a negative review by New York's principal critic. The cast, including its leading player, the opera star Teresa Stratas, were so enthusiastic about the show that they all offered to defer their salaries to keep it open, and after the closing curtain, they paraded down Broadway, together with the audience, chanting 'Keep Rags open!' But it was not to be; the producers had run out of funds.
"However, Rags was subsequently revived off-Broadway to a very favorable reaction, and it continues to play in regional theaters with considerable success."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Guernsey, Otis L., Jr., editor, Broadway Song and Story: Playwrights/Lyricists/Composers Discuss Their Hits, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1986.
New York Times, April 10, 1979; April 22, 1979; March 25, 1985; August 17, 1986; August 22, 1986; September 21, 1986.
Washington Post, March 4, 1979; April 22, 1979.*