Roger Horchow, Two-Time Tony-Winning Producer, Dies at 91

Roger Horchow OBIT - Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy of Horchow Family

The former retailer sold his company to Neiman Marcus to bankroll such Broadway musicals as 'Crazy for You' and 'Kiss Me, Kate.'

Roger Horchow, the former mail-order magnate who received Tony Awards for producing the 1992 Gershwin musical Crazy for You and a 2000 revival of Kiss Me, Kate, has died. He was 91.

Horchow died Saturday at his home in Dallas of complications related to cancer, his family announced.

A onetime Neiman Marcus employee, Horchow founded The Horchow Collection, believed to be the first luxury mail-order catalog without a bricks-and-mortar presence, in 1971. Seventeen years later, with the company sporting annual sales of more than $100 million, he sold it to the Neiman Marcus Group for an undisclosed sum.

The transaction provided seed money for his career as a Broadway producer. Crazy for You, his debut effort, featured choreography from Susan Stroman and a book by Ken Ludwig and won the Tony for best musical, and Kiss Me, Kate, starring Marin Mazzie and Brian Stokes Mitchell, took the trophy for best revival of a musical in 2000.

Horchow also produced Curtains in 2006, revivals of Gypsy in 2008 and Annie in 2012 and, at the age of 88, Bandstand in 2017.

"I never thought I'd be a producer. But once I did, I went for broke. I didn’t skimp. I didn’t want to look back and say it would have worked if only I had done this or that," he said in a 2017 interview with The Dallas Morning News. "My belief is that in life you stumble into things, but once you do, you do everything you can to make it work."

He also was an investor in Les MiserablesThe Phantom of the OperaThe Book of Mormon and Hamilton, according to the Dallas Morning article.

Born on July 3, 1928, in Cincinnati, Horchow, whose mother was a concert pianist, graduated from Yale in 1950 and served in the Korean War.

He started out as a buyer for the Foley's department store chain in Houston from 1953-60, then worked for his mentor, Stanley Marcus, as a china, glass and gift buyer at Neiman Marcus. In 1971, he took over the struggling Kenton Collection and renamed it The Horchow Collection.

Horchow also served on many boards throughout his lifetime, including those at the Dallas Museum of Art, Yale University Art Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum in New York, and wrote three books: 1980's Elephants in Your Mailbox, 1981's Living in Style and 2006's The Art of Friendship, co-written with daughter Sally Horchow.  

In addition to Sally, survivors include daughters Regen and Lizzie; son-in-law Daniel; granddaughters Samantha, Regen, Emily, Fiona and Sabrina; and brother-in-law Eugene. His wife of 49 years, Carolyn, died in 2009.