Kermit Bloomgarden Papers, 1938-1977


Kermit Bloomgarden was born in Brooklyn on December 15, 1904. His Russian-born parents were Sam Zemad (1868-1924) and Annie (1872-1946, née Grodensky or Groden) Bloomgarden, who were also the parents of Elias B., Saul, and Violet P. Bloomgarden (Fox). Bloomgarden attended Brooklyn schools and graduated from New York University in 1926 with a degree in accounting. He was a certified public accountant until 1932 when he met Broadway producer Arthur Beckhardt and became his general manager. In 1935 he joined producer Herman Shumlin and for the next ten years he acted as Shumlin's general manager and frequently, as partner and co-producer. In association with Shumlin, Bloomgarden presented several successful plays by Lillian Hellman, including The Children's Hour, The Little Foxes, Watch on the Rhine, and The Searching Wind. His first solo productions were the financially unsuccessful Heavenly Express (National Theatre, New York, 1940) and Deep Are the Roots (1945), which he co-produced with George Heller.

As a leading producer, Bloomgarden gained a reputation for producing artistic drama, not merely that which was commercially appealing. However, many of his serious productions have been both critically and commercially successful. Bloomgarden's name was linked in particular with two important American dramatists: Lillian Hellman and Arthur Miller. He received the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Death of a Salesman (1949), The Diary of Anne Frank (1955), Look Homeward, Angel (best American play, 1958), The Music Man (best musical, 1958), and Toys in the Attic (1960); Tony Awards as best play for Death of a Salesman and Equus (1974); and the Pulitzer Prize for Death of a Salesman, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Look Homeward, Angel.

During World War II Bloomgarden was manager of the Stage Door Canteen. He also was a member and vice-president of the League of New York Theaters, and a director of The Council for the Living Theater and The American Theater Wing. Bloomgarden was married first to singer Hattie Richardson (whose stage name was Linda Lee; she died in 1942) and in 1943 to actress Virginia Kaye (b. 1921), with whom he had two sons, John, also a theatrical producer, and David. In 1971 Bloomgarden underwent amputation of his right leg because of arteriosclerosis. After a long period of recuperation he returned to work. He subsequently suffered from a brain tumor and died in New York City, September 24, 1976.

Plays Produced or Co-Produced by Kermit Bloomgarden

  • Heavenly Express (1940)
  • Deep Are the Roots (1945)
  • Woman Bites Dog (1946)
  • Another Part of the Forest (1946)
  • Command Decision (1947)
  • Death of a Salesman (1949)
  • Montserrat (1949)
  • The Man (1950)
  • The Legend of Sarah (1950)
  • The Autumn Garden (1951)
  • The Children's Hour (1952)
  • The Shrike (tour) (1952)
  • The Crucible (1953)
  • Wedding Breakfast (1954)
  • A View From the Bridge (1955)
  • The Diary of Anne Frank (1955)
  • The Lark(1955)
  • The Most Happy Fella (1956)
  • The Night of the Auk (1956)
  • Maiden Voyage (1957)
  • Look Homeward, Angel (1957)
  • The Music Man (1957)
  • The Gang's All Here (1959)
  • The Fighting Cock (1959)
  • Toys in the Attic (American and British productions, 1960)
  • The Wall (1960)
  • The Music Man (London, 1961)
  • The Gay Life (1961)
  • A Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (1962)
  • Nowhere To Go But Up (1962)
  • My Mother, My Father, and Me (1963)
  • Next Time I'll Sing To You (1963)
  • Anyone Can Whistle (1964)
  • The Playroom (1965)
  • Illya Darling (1967)
  • Hello and Goodbye (1969)
  • Golden Bat (1970)
  • Hot L Baltimore (1973)
  • The Sea Horse (1974)
  • Ionescopade (1974)
  • Equus (1974)