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February 24, 2012

TT: Howard Kissel, R.I.P.

kissel-150x150.jpgHoward Kissel was a familiar face on the New York theater scene for well over thirty years. Best remembered as the longtime drama critic of the New York Daily News and the biographer of David Merrick, he had an extraordinarily wide range of cultural interests, and in recent months he had been displaying them to excellent effect on his Huffington Post blog, to which he made his final posting mere days before he died.

He was the best of all possible colleagues, forthright, funny, and exceedingly, unfailingly kind, not only to me but also to Mrs. T, who adored him. His last years, alas, were difficult, both for professional and personal reasons, and when he underwent a liver transplant, it was widely feared that his career was over. Incredibly, he was back at it a few months later, and though he was visibly weakened by his trials, he seemed never to lose his gusto.

Howard was the first critic in New York who went out of his way to befriend me. When I started writing about theater for The Wall Street Journal, he warned me of the dangers of burning out, and it pleased him greatly that I never showed any signs of doing so, any more than he did.

I cannot imagine never again seeing Howard's unmistakable features in a Broadway theater. For me, there will always be an empty seat on the aisle.

* * *

Howard Kissel recites a Shakespeare sonnet for Michael Riedel at the Players Club:

UPDATE: Howard's New York Daily News obituary is here.

Posted February 24, 2012 11:01 AM

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