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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gene Saks
Publicity Photo of Gene Saks
Jean Michael Saks

(1921-11-08)November 8, 1921
DiedMarch 28, 2015(2015-03-28) (aged 93)
Occupation(s)Director, actor
Years active1949–2015
(m. 1950; div. 1978)
Keren Saks
(m. 1980)

Gene Saks (born Jean Michael Saks; November 8, 1921 – March 28, 2015) was an American director and actor. An inductee of the American Theater Hall of Fame, his acting career began with a Broadway debut in 1949. As a director, he was nominated for seven Tony Awards, winning three for his direction of I Love My Wife, Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues. He also directed a number of films during his career. He was married to Bea Arthur from 1950 until 1978, and subsequently to Keren Saks from 1980 to his death in 2015.

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Early life

Saks was born in New York City, the son of Beatrix (née Lewkowitz) and Morris J. Saks.[1] Saks first became involved in theater as a student at Hackensack High School.[2] He studied at Cornell University. Upon graduation, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, taking part in the Normandy landings.[3] He also trained for acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the German director Erwin Piscator and helped start a theater cooperative at the Cherry Lane Theater and appeared in a number of productions as Off Broadway blossomed.[3]


Saks made his acting debut on Broadway in South Pacific in 1949. On stage he also appeared in e. e. cummings's Him,[4] A Shot in the Dark, The Tenth Man and A Thousand Clowns, in the role of Leo "Chuckles The Chipmunk" Herman, which he reprised in the film version. He portrayed Jack Lemmon's brother in the screen adaptation of Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue, and also appeared in Nobody's Fool starring Paul Newman.[5]

Saks shared a long-term professional association with playwright/comedy writer Neil Simon,[6] directing Simon's plays Biloxi Blues, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Jake's Women, Rumors, Lost in Yonkers, Broadway Bound, The Odd Couple (1985 revival with female cast) and California Suite. His additional Broadway credits included Enter Laughing; Half a Sixpence; Nobody Loves an Albatross; Mame; I Love My Wife; Same Time, Next Year and Rags.

Among Saks's film directing credits were Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Cactus Flower (which won Goldie Hawn the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress), Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Mame, Brighton Beach Memoirs, A Fine Romance, and the 1995 television production of Bye Bye Birdie.[5]

Personal life

Saks was married to fellow Actors Studio member actress Bea Arthur[7] from 1950 until 1978. The couple had two sons by adoption: Matthew (born in 1961), an actor, and Daniel (born in 1964), a set designer. He also had a daughter by his second wife Keren Saks.[6] Saks died of pneumonia at his East Hampton residence on March 28, 2015, aged 93.[6]




Year Title Notes
1967 Barefoot in the Park
1968 The Odd Couple
1969 Cactus Flower
1972 Last of the Red Hot Lovers
1974 Mame
1986 Brighton Beach Memoirs
1991 A Fine Romance
1995 Bye Bye Birdie TV movie


Year Title Role Notes
1965 A Thousand Clowns Leo
1975 The Prisoner of Second Avenue Harry Edison
1978 The One and Only Sidney Seltzer
1983 Lovesick Frantic Patient
1984 The Goodbye People Marcus Soloway
1991 The Good Policeman Performer
1994 Nobody's Fool Wirf
1994 I.Q. Boris Podolsky
1996 On Seventh Avenue Sol Jacobs
1997 Deconstructing Harry Harry's Father


Year Title Role Notes
1951 Out There Performer Episode: “Misfit”
1954 Omnibus Traveling salesman Episode: “Hilde and the Turnpike”
1955 Danger Performer Episode: “Precinct Girl”
1955 You Are There Pvt. Lambert Episode: “D-Day (June 6, 1944)”
1955 Producers' Showcase Waiter Episode: “Reunion in Vienna”
1955 Pond's Theater Performer Episode: "The Ways of Courage"
1955 The Elgin Hour Mitchell Sanders Episode: “Mind Over Momma”
1955 Playwrights '56 Mr. Baumgarten Episode: “Snow Job”
1956 Playwrights '56 Doctor Episode: “The Center of the Maze”
1956 Playwrights '56 Emcee Episode: “You Sometimes Get Rich”
1958 Kraft Theatre Various Roles Season 11 - Episode 27
1958 Where Is Thy Brother? Mr. Kalish Television Movie
1959 Bachelor Father Fred Episode:”Bentley, the Organizer”
1959 Mike Hammer Gobo McCoy Episode: See No Evil
1959 Brenner Vinnie Harper Episode: “Small Take”
1959 Rendezvous Episode:” The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit”
1960 Play of the Week Mikoel ”The Dybbuk”
1961 Great Ghost Tales Performer Episode: “Bye Bye Baby”
1961 The United States Steel Hour Willie Episode: “Man on the Mountain Top”
1963 Armstrong Circle Theatre Arthur Vernon Episode: “The Embezzler”
1998 Law & Order Judge Carl Samuel Episode: “Castoff”


As an Actor

Year Title Role Venue
1949 South Pacific Professor Majestic Theatre, Broadway
1950 All You Need is a Good Break Performer Mansfield Theatre, Broadway
1955 South Pacific Professor New York City Center, New York
1956-57 The Good Woman of Setzuan First God Phoenix Theatre, Broadway
1958 The Infernal Machine Capt. of the Patrol
1958 Howie Professor 46th Street Theatre, Broadway
1959-61 The Tenth Man Rabbi Booth Theatre
Ambassador Theatre
1960 Love and Libel Norman Yarrow Martin Beck Theatre, Broadway
1961-62 A Shot in the Dark Morestan Booth Theatre, Broadway
1962-63 A Thousand Clowns Leo Herman Eugene O'Neill Theatre, Broadway

As a Director

Year Title Playwright Venue
1963-64 Enter Laughing Joseph Stein Henry Miller's Theatre
1963-64 Nobody Loves an Albatross Ronald Alexander Lyceum Theatre
1965-66 Half a Sixpence David Heneker Broadhurst Theatre
1965-55 Generation William Goodhart Morosco Theatre
1966-70 Mame Jerry Herman Winter Garden Theatre
Broadway Theatre
1970 Sheep on the Runway Art Buchwald Helen Hayes Theatre
1971 How the Other Half Loves Alan Ayckbourn Royale Theatre
1975-78 Same Time, Next Year Bernard Slade Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Ambassador Theatre
1976-77 California Suite Neil Simon Eugene O'Neill Theatre
1977-79 I Love My Wife Michael Stewart Ethel Barrymore Theatre
1981 The Supporting Cast George Furth Biltmore Theatre
1982 Special Occasions Bernard Slade Music Box Theatre
1983-86 Brighton Beach Memoirs Neil Simon Alvin Theatre
Neil Simon Theatre
46th Street Theatre
1985-86 Biloxi Blues Neil Simon Theatre
1985-86 The Odd Couple Broadhurst Theatre
1986 Rags Joseph Stein Mark Hellinger Theatre
1986-88 Broadway Bound Neil Simon Broadhurst Theatre
1987 A Month of Sundays Bob Larbey Ritz Theatre
1988-90 Rumors Neil Simon Broadhurst Theatre
Ethel Barrymore Theatre
1990 Lost in Yonkers Richard Rogers Theatre
1992 Jake's Women Neil Simon Theatre
1997 Barrymore William Luce Music Box Theatre

Awards and nominations

Tony Awards

Year Award Nominated work Result
1965 Best Direction of a Musical Half a Sixpence Nominated
1966 Mame Nominated
1975 Best Direction of a Play Same Time, Next Year Nominated
1977 Best Direction of a Musical I Love My Wife Won
1983 Best Direction of a Play Brighton Beach Memoirs Won
1985 Biloxi Blues Won
1991 Lost in Yonkers Nominated

Drama Desk Awards

Year Award Nominated work Result
1975 Outstanding Director of a Play Same Time, Next Year Nominated
1977 Outstanding Director of a Play I Love My Wife Nominated
1985 Outstanding Director of a Play Biloxi Blues Nominated
1987 Broadway Bound Nominated
  • 1969 DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Movie – The Odd Couple - Nom
  • 1991 Outer Critics Circle for Outstanding Direction of a Play - Lost in Yonkers - Won



  1. ^ Gene Saks profile,, accessed August 23, 2011.
  2. ^ Staff. "Who's Who in the Cast", Playbill, 1981. Accessed August 13, 2018. "Gene Saks (Director) began his theatrical career playing Lord Fancourt Babberley in the Hackensack High School's production of Charlie's Aunt."
  3. ^ a b Gene Saks, Tony-Winning Director of Neil Simon Hits, Dies at 93. The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  4. ^ Friedman, Norman (2011). "E. E. Cummings and the Theatre". Spring (18): 94–108. ISSN 0735-6889. JSTOR 43915380.
  5. ^ a b Gene Saks at the Internet Broadway Database
  6. ^ a b c Weber, Bruce (March 29, 2015). "Gene Saks, Tony-Winning Director of Neil Simon Hits, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  7. ^ Gene Saks/Beatrice Arthur at the University of Wisconsin's Actor Studio audio collection Archived 2014-05-02 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "On Stage, and Off". The New York Times. December 6, 1991.

External links

This page was last edited on 17 June 2024, at 16:50
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