Cohen, Alexander H.

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COHEN, ALEXANDER H. (1920–2000), U.S. producer. Cohen began investing in the theater at the age of 21, and became known on Broadway as the "millionaire boy angel." He scored his first success with Angel Street in 1941. Subsequently, he staged more than 30 productions in New York and London. His Nine O'Clock Theater for intimate review opened in 1959 with At the Drop of a Hat, and presented such diverse performers as John Gielgud, Yves Montand, and the Karmon Israel Dancers. In 1962 he imported Beyond the Fringe from England, directing it himself. His production of Hamlet, starring Richard Burton and directed by Gielgud, won widespread critical acclaim.

His many Broadway productions included Of V We Sing (1942), King Lear (1951), An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May (1960–61), The School for Scandal (1963), Baker Street (1965), The Homecoming (1967), Black Comedy/White Lies (1967), 6 Rms Riv Vu (1972–73), Good Evening (1973–74), Words & Music (1974), Comedians (1976–77), I Remember Mama (1979), A Day In Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine (1980–81), and Waiting in the Wings (1999–2000).

In 1967 Cohen won a Tony for Best Play for The Homecoming. That year, he conceived and originated the national Tony Awards telecast, an annual special tv presentation in which the American Theater Wing presents awards to the best plays and musicals of the season. After a long stint of producing the show (1967–86), Cohen was pressured to step down as presenter of the awards when he publicly made a disparaging remark about a particular theater critic and implied that he spoke not only for himself but for the American Theater Wing as well.

A compilation of 17 musical numbers from several editions of the Tony Awards shows Cohen produced is captured on Broadway's Lost Treasures (2003), a 110-minute dvd. In 1973 Cohen was honored with the Theater World Special Award for "his contribution to cultivating theater audiences by extending Broadway, not only nationally but internationally, with his exemplary television productions."

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]