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Broadway Producer Merrick Honored

July 19, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ The late Broadway producer David Merrick liked to terrorize theater critics. Take it from Clive Barnes, theater critic.

That way, Merrick could believe poor reviews were spite and good ones were the result of his handiwork, said Barnes, who writes for the New York Post.

Barnes and others gathered this week for a memorial service on the stage of the St. James Theater, where Merrick’s ``Hello, Dolly!″ ran for years and his ″42nd Street″ finished its long Broadway run.

Zack Manna, executive director of the David Merrick Arts Foundation, said Merrick ``was the last of the great American showmen, respected, feared, admired and hated but never ignored. He was no saint and he worked hard making sure people understood that.″

Merrick produced many successes between 1944 and 1996, including ``The Matchmaker,″ ``Gypsy,″ ``Carnival,″ ``Stop the World _ I Want To Get Off!″ and ``Oliver!″ He also produced authors Tennessee Williams, John Osborne, Brian Friel and Tom Stoppard when others wouldn’t.

Howard Kissel of the Daily News, author of a Merrick biography, said Merrick ``timed″ his April 25 death at age 88 well: A few days earlier, Broadway producer rival Alexander Cohen died, and his obituary ran on a Saturday. Merrick’s ran in better-read midweek editions, and on Page 1.

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