Lucille Lortel (1901-1999)

Lucille Lortel was an American Actress, Artistic Director and, most notably, Producer. In the course of her career Ms Lortel produced or co-produced nearly 500 plays, 5 of which were nominated for Tony Awards: As Is by William M. Hoffman, Angels Fall by Lanford Wilson, Blood Knot by Athol Fugard, Mbongeni Ngema's Sarafina! and A Walk in the Woods by Lee Blessing. Additionally she produced Marc Blitzstein's adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's and Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera, a production which ran for seven years and according to The New York Times "caused such a sensation that it…put Off Broadway on the map."

Lucille Lortel was born Lucille Wadler on December 16, 1900 at 153 Attorney Street, New York, NY the daughter of Anny and Harris Wadler, Jewish immigrants of Polish descent. Her father was a manufacturer of women's clothes and frequently traveled to Europe to buy designs that he would copy. She had two brothers, Seymour and Mayo (a respected violinist) and a sister, Ruth. She was raised in both The Bronx and New York City. She was home schooled and after attended school at Adelphi University in Brooklyn, NY. She was remembered by her friends for being vivacious, outgoing, flirtatious and was known to be found dancing at parties well into her 80s.

In 1920 Lucille Lortel (Lortel was an alliterative invention for the stage) began to study acting and theatre at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In 1921 she briefly left the United States to further continue her training with Max Reinhardt in Berlin.

Lucille Lortel made her Broadway debut in 1925 in the Theatre Guild's production of Caesar and Cleopatra with Helen Hayes. In 1926 she appeared in Michael Kallesser's One Man's Woman at the 48th Street Theatre in New York. She also appeared in David Belasco's The Dove with Judith Anderson, and as Poppy in the touring company of The Shanghai Gesture with Florence Reed. In 1929 Lortel played the female lead in The Man Who Laughed Last with star Sessue Hayakawa. She performed the role both on stage and on film in what was one of the first talking pictures.

In 1931 Ms. Lortel married paper industrialist and philanthropist Louis Schweitzer and in deference to her husband's concerns retired from acting in 1939.

Productions as Staff

Date Play Venue Role
May 1, 1985 As Is Lyceum Theatre Producer
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License