Broadway Casting Director Barry Moss Dies at 74

Barry Moss

A veteran of film and television as well as theater, Moss worked on almost 90 Broadway shows, among them "Nine," "Torch Song Trilogy," "The Who's Tommy" and "Sophisticated Ladies," and helped give Adam Sandler his start.

NEW YORK — Prominent theater, film and television casting director Barry Moss, whose extensive credits ranged from Friday the 13th through The Cosby Show to putting Elizabeth Taylor in The Little Foxes on Broadway, has died. He was 74.

His longtime partner Bob Kale confirmed on behalf of the family that Moss died of congestive heart failure on June 17 at Mount Sinai/Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan, following a long illness.

A former child actor who graduated from Fairfax High School in Los Angeles and studied theater arts at UCLA, Moss worked early on for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences before moving to New York. He met Julie Hughes while running the theatrical department of the Mort Schwartz Agency, and the two founded Hughes Moss Casting in 1981.

That company notched up close to 90 Broadway productions, at one time having eight shows running simultaneously.

Moss' first Broadway credit as casting director was on Neil Simon's Chapter Two in 1977. He worked again with the playwright on the 1979 musical They're Playing Our Song, and the play I Ought to Be in Pictures in 1980.

Moss and Hughes cast the original production and revival of Whose Life Is It Anyway? and the premieres of Children of a Lesser God, Agnes of God, Harvey Fierstein's breakout success Torch Song Trilogy and August Wilson's King Hedley II.

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Moss was involved in the casting of countless original Broadway musicals, including Woman of the Year with Lauren Bacall, Nine with Raul Julia, My One and Only with Tommy Tune and Twiggy, The Tap Dance Kid, Grand Hotel, The Will Rogers Follies, Crazy For You, Titanic, The Life, Jekyll & Hyde, Footloose and The Who's Tommy, as well as the musical revues Sophisticated Ladies and Jelly's Last Jam.

Among Broadway revivals cast by Moss were West Side Story, Camelot, My Fair Lady, Brigadoon, On Your Toes, Show Boat, Sweeney Todd and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which won a Tony for star Matthew Broderick.

His final Broadway casting credit was the short-lived 2008 musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. Moss took on Kale as his business associate after Hughes retired from the industry.

"To say that Barry was a pioneer of the casting industry is an understatement," said Bernard Telsey on behalf of the Casting Society of America New York board. "His credits alone speak volumes of his contributions to the New York entertainment industry and CSA, but more importantly, they represent the stories of hundreds of stage actors who were given their first professional jobs or Broadway debuts." 

In addition to Friday the 13th, Moss chalked up a number of screen casting credits, including Franco Zeffirelli's Endless Love, the Coen Brothers' debut Blood Simple, and Richard Attenborough's flop film version of A Chorus Line. He also did voice casting for Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.

While he was casting director on The Cosby Show, Moss caught Adam Sandler's act in a comedy club and gave the actor his first TV role on that series, playing the recurring character of Theo Huxtable's friend Smitty.

Plans for a memorial service are to be announced.