Bill Craver, Veteran Company Manager, Producer and Agent on Broadway, Dies at 87

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Bill Craver (right) with director Michael David in 2013

The Tony winner worked for Neil Simon and Mike Nichols early in his career, and three of his clients received the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

Bill Craver, a frequent Neil Simon and Mike Nichols collaborator who spent nearly six decades on Broadway and off-Broadway as a general manager, company manager, producer and agent, has died. He was 87.

Craver, who was honored in 2013 with a Tony Award for "excellence in the theater," died Thursday in Austin, a Polk & Co. publicist announced. 

For 40 years, Craver worked as a theatrical literary agent representing playwrights, composers, lyricists and directors. Three of his clients won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama: Robert Schenkkan for The Kentucky Cycle in 1992, Jonathan Larson for Rent in 1996 and David Auburn for Proof in 2001.

Others received Tony and Drama Critics Circle awards for shows like M. ButterflyUrinetown, the 1996 revival of Chicago, the 1992 revival of Guys & Dolls and Passing Strange.

Craver also co-owned and was a partner in Writers and Artists Agency until Paradigm acquired the firm in 2004. He served on the boards of the American Theatre Wing, the Dramatists Play Service and the Jonathan Larson Foundation. 

Born in Texarkana, Texas, Craver graduated from Texas High School and studied for two years at Texarkana College before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in drama.

After serving for two years in the U.S. Army, he returned to UT Austin and got his master's in directing, then moved to New York City in 1956.

Craver worked for producer Saint Subber on Simon's Come Blow Your Horn, which bowed on Broadway in 1961. He then served as the company manager for the original Broadway productions of Simon's Barefoot in the ParkThe Odd Couple and Plaza Suite and for the 1967 all-star revival of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes — all directed by Nichols. 

In 1974, Craver produced Mark Medoff's off-Broadway comedy The Wager at the Eastside Playhouse. Medoff went on to write the Tony-winning Children of a Lesser God, with the drama being represented by Craver.

He also produced the 1978 films Somebody Killed Her Husband and The Dain Curse and a 1979 CBS telefilm, The Fantastic Seven

"I am very grateful for the things that happened to me," Craver said in 2013. "I never asked for a job after the first one. It was quite fortunate that people would ask me to work for them, and every job seemed to be a step up."

Survivors include his sister, Jane; brother-in-law, Garland; nephews David and Stephen; and niece Diane.

In lieu of flowers, his family asks that donations be made to the drama department at the University of Texas at Austin; to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS; to the Jonathan Larson Foundation; or to the American Theatre Wing. 

Please direct any comments or memories of Craver to: Michael Moore Agency, 450 West 24th St., Suite 1C, New York, NY 10011.