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Harvey Sabinson, the veteran Broadway press agent who worked with the likes of Barbra Streisand, Neil Simon and David Merrick and served for 13 years as executive director of The Broadway League, has died. He was 94.
Sabinson died Thursday of natural causes at his home in Sarasota, Florida, publicist Keith Sherman announced.
Sabinson capped a 50-year career in the theater when he was honored with a special Tony Award for lifetime achievement in 1995. That year, he also stepped down as executive director of the League of American Theatres and Producers (now known as The Broadway League), a national trade association of theatrical producers, presenters and theater operators.
He had joined the organization in 1976 as director of special projects when it was called the League of New York Theatres and Producers, then became executive director in 1982.
As a press agent, Sabinson represented such major producers as Merrick, Robert Whitehead, Saint Subber, Stuart Ostrow, Cheryl Crawford, Emanuel Azenberg, Roger L. Stevens, Alexander H. Cohen, Frederick Brisson and Gil Cates and several major institutional theaters, including the Guthrie in Minneapolis.
Among the milestone Broadway plays and musicals with which he was associated were the original productions of Finian’s Rainbow; Guys and Dolls; Gypsy; Hello, Dolly!; 1776; Oliver!; Promises, Promises; and Carnival. He also worked on 10 Simon plays, from Barefoot in the Park to The Sunshine Boys.
Sabinson also represented the first American productions of Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. In all, he handled more than 250 Broadway productions as well as the long-running off-Broadway hit The Fantasticks.
He was a principal in the PR firm Solters and Sabinson, which represented such talent as Streisand, Carol Channing, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and Jason Robards; the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and the Plaza Hotel in New York; and U.S. tours of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
Born on Oct. 24, 1924, in New York, Sabinson graduated from Townsend Harris High School in Queens and then — after receiving a Purple Heart during a three-year stint in the U.S. Army — Queens College.
In 1966, he helped establish the theater administration department at the Yale School of Drama, where he served as a visiting professor through 1969 under Dean Robert Brustein. He also was vice president of the board of trustees of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
For many years, Sabinson was a board member and vice president of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers. And he served for 16 years as a trustee of the Actors’ Fund of America and chair of its human services committee.
Sabinson published a memoir, Darling, You Were Wonderful, in 1977.
Survivors include his wife, Sarah; sons Eric and Allen; and grandchildren Lia, Elena Beth and Juliliana.
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