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Broadway Producer Cy Feuer


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Broadway Producer Cy Feuer

by Michael Kuchwara, AP Drama Writer

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Cy Feuer

NEW YORK, New York -- Cy Feuer, who with Ernest H. Martin produced some of Broadway's biggest hits including "Guys and Dolls" and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" as well as the movie version of "Cabaret," died Wednesday, May 17 at home. He was 95.

His death was announced by Jed Bernstein, head of the League of American Theatres and Producers, the Broadway trade organization where Feuer once served as president and later chairman. The cause of death was bladder cancer, according to Feuer's son, Jed.

For more than a half-century, starting in 1945, Feuer's partner was Ernest H. Martin. In later years they produced film versions of musicals, including the Oscar-winning "Cabaret." But it was on Broadway where Feuer and Martin became virtually a brand name.

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Producers Cy Feuer, left, and Ernest H. Martin (1954)

In the press they were "the King and Cy," a producing team with a widely admired knack for sensing what the public, if not always the critics, would like. Demanding and incessantly hard working, they could also be bruising in their relations with the talent they hired.

Feuer and Martin (that's how they were always billed) were the stuff of Broadway legend. The duo had five hit musicals in a row, starting in 1948 with "Where's Charley?" It was followed by 1950's "Guys and Dolls," 1953's "Can-Can," 1954's "The Boy Friend" and 1955's "Silk Stockings."

Nominated for nine Tonys, Feuer won three, one for "Guys and Dolls" and two for "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." Feuer received a lifetime achievement Tony in 2003.

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Cy Feuer, holds gold medal award by

The Theatre Club for best show of the

year for 'How to Succeed In Business

Without Really Trying' in 1962

Feuer and Martin, who died in 1995, met through Feuer's brother in Los Angeles. The two men made their Broadway producing debut with "Where's Charley?" -- hiring a Hollywood songwriter, Frank Loesser, to compose the score.

The show, based on the farce "Charley's Aunt" and starring Ray Bolger, was panned by most critics. But it became a hit after Bolger began leading the audience in singing what became the musical's best-known song, "Once in Love with Amy."

The two producers collaborated next with Loesser on "Guys and Dolls," considered one of the greatest of all Broadway musicals. Based on a Damon Runyon short story, it chronicled the colorful characters of Times Square. "Guys and Dolls" ran for 1,200 performances and had a successful Broadway revival in the 1990s.

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Cy Feuer

In 1953, Feuer and Martin produced Cole Porter's "Can-Can," which also was derided by critics. Yet the show was embraced by audiences because of Porter's score, which included "I Love Paris" and "C'est Magnifique" and because it featured a blazing new dance talent, Gwen Verdon.

The following year, Julie Andrews made her Broadway debut in "The Boy Friend," Sandy Wilson's gentle spoof of 1920s musicals. And in 1955, Feuer and Martin produced Porter's last Broadway musical, "Silk Stockings."

"Silk Stockings" was based on the Greta Garbo film, "Ninotchka." A flop finally caught up with the producing team in 1958 with "Whoop-Up," a rowdy tale set on an Indian reservation. It collapsed in less than two months.

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In 1960, (L-R) Abe Burrows, Cy Feuer and Frank Loesser working

on 'How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying'

The duo bounced back in 1961 when they again collaborated with Loesser and Burrows on "How to Success in Business Without Really Trying," which starred Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee. It told the story of a disarming young man who works his way up the corporate ladder. The musical, which ran for 1,417 performances, won the Tony as well as the Pulitzer Prize.

Among the other musicals the two men produced were 1962's "Little Me" starring Sid Caesar, 1965's "Skyscraper," 1966's "Walking Happy" and 1977's "The Act" starring Liza Minnelli. Besides the film version of "Cabaret," Feuer and Martin produced the movie version of "A Chorus Line."

Born Seymour Arnold Feuer on January 15, 1911 in Brooklyn, to Herman Feuer, the manager of a Yiddish theater and the former Ann Abrams, a saleswoman in a dress shop. Disliking his given name, he later changed it legally to Cyrus, but then went by Cy.

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Cy Feuer

Feuer described his father as "a vague, almost nonexistent presence in my childhood." The elder Feuer died of cancer when Cy was 13, leaving his mother, himself and his younger brother, Stan, to subsist on his mother's 1920's wages of $25 a week or less. However, Ann Feuer was a woman of forceful ambition.

His mother decided that Cy should learn to play the trumpet in high school and encouraged him to attend Juilliard. After finishing his music studies, Feuer worked as a trumpet player at Radio City Music Hall, among other theaters, and later became head of the music department at Republic Pictures in the 1930s and into the '40s.

In 1946, Feuer met Posy Greenberg, an antiques dealer, in Manhattan. She was divorced and had a son, Robert. They married and had another son, Jed, now a frequent composer for the stage. Robert became a lawyer.

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Cy Feuer

In his autobiography, "I Got the Show Right Here," published in 2003, Feuer mused on the vagaries of Broadway hits and misses. "It is a completely mystifying thing, success. What works and what doesn't." he wrote.

"You can apply faultless logic, work with geometric precision, allow for every single pitfall, have the perfect cast and the perfect story and still turn out a dud," Feuer added. "There are so many complicating intangibles. It's like the chaos theory. The miracle is that it sometimes works."

Feuer is survived by two sons, Jed and Robert and two grandchildren. His wife, Posy, died last year. The lights on Broadway marquees and other theaters around the country were dimmed on Thursday, May 18 in Feuer's honor.

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