Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson To Receive Second Annual Alfred Drake Award from the Brooklyn College Theater Department, May 13

Broadway Producer Richard Frankel, '68, To Be Honored As Theater Alumnus of the Year

Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson will receive the second annual Alfred Drake Award from the Brooklyn College Department of Theater.

May 13, 2003    A night of celebration marking the end of the Brooklyn College theatrical season will be highlighted by the presentation of the second annual Alfred Drake Award to veteran stage and screen stars Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson. Prominent Broadway producer Richard Frankel, '68 (The Producers, Hairspray) will receive the Theater Alumnus of the Year Award. At the informal reception, which will take place Tuesday, May 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. on the stage of the George Gershwin Theater at Brooklyn College, the Theater Department will also recognize outstanding work done by students and faculty this year, and present a selection of short scenes performed by B.F.A. and M.F.A. students who took part in the department's annual acting showcase at the José Quintero Theater in Manhattan.

The Theater Department annually recognizes accomplished alumni. Previous honorees include actors Dominic Chianese and Novella Nelson, teacher Rose Bonczek, and agent Don Buchwald. Awards for distinguished individuals from outside the Department of Theater have been bestowed on producer-director Lynne Meadow, producer André Bishop, and playwright Romulus Linney. Last year the award was renamed the Alfred Drake Award.

The Alfred Drake Award commemorates the Broadway star and Class of 1936 Brooklyn College graduate who starred in Kiss Me Kate, Kismet, and dozens of musical and theatrical plays. It was as Curly in the original 1941 production of Oklahoma!, that Drake help kick off the era of the modern musical, singing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning," the opening number of the Rodgers and Hammerstein show. Last year his costar in that production, Celeste Holm (Ado Annie), received the first Alfred Drake Award.

Eli Wallach grew up near the Red Hook waterfront, helping run his parents' candy store. He attended Erasmus Hall High School and the University of Texas, then returned to New York to receive a master of science degree in education at City College of New York in 1938. After serving for five years in the Army's Medical Administrative Corps, eventually reaching the rank of Captain, he returned to New York City, determined to become an actor.

In 1946, he appeared in the Equity Library Theater's production of Tennessee Williams's This Property Is Condemned, where he met Anne Jackson. The two were married in 1948. Wallach was one of the earliest members of the Actors Studio and soon became a Broadway regular, appearing in Tennessee Williams's Camino Real and The Rose Tattoo (for which he won a Tony Award in 1951), and costarring for two years with Henry Fonda in the hit play Mister Roberts.

Wallach made his film debut in 1956, in Elia Kazan's production of Tennessee Williams's Baby Doll, for which he received a British Academy Award. Wallach went on to appear in numerous films, including The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Misfits (1961), How The West Was Won (1962), and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1967). In recent years he has starred in Tough Guys, Nuts, The Two Jakes, Godfather III, Article 99, Mistress, and Night and the City.

Wallach has appeared on the stage with his wife in such plays as Major Barbara, Rhinoceros, The Waltz of the Toreadors, The Typists and the Tiger, Luv, Next, Twice Around the Park, Tennessee Williams Remembered (a collection of the couple's Williams stories) and Down the Garden Path. Wallach earned an Emmy Award in 1967 for his role in The Poppy is Also a Flower, but his most memorable television role was as Mr. Freeze in the campy 1960s TV series Batman.

Hairspray, the most recent of Richard Frankel's musical productions, was recently nominated for thirteen Tony awards.

Anne Jackson was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and by age seventeen was already in New York, studying with famed acting coach Sanford Meisner. In 1944, she made her stage debut as Anya in a Wilmington, Delaware, production of The Cherry Orchard and the next year played a smaller role in a Broadway production of the same play. Jackson earned Tony award nominations for Tennessee Williams's Summer and Smoke (1948), in which she created the role of Nellie Ewel; for Oh Men! Oh Women! (1953); and for Middle of the Night (1956). In 1961, she played Daisy in the Broadway production of Ionesco's Rhinoceros starring with Wallach and Zero Mostel. The following season, she and Wallach were paired in the double bill of The Tiger and The Typists, for which she won an Obie Award. (They repeated their roles in London in 1964.) Later, Jackson won critical kudos for her turn as Ethel Rosenberg in Inquest (1970).

Jackson made her film debut in 1950 in So Young, So Bad. In 1960, she played one of her first screen mothers in Tall Story with Anthony Perkins and Jane Fonda. In 1967 she and her husband starred in The Tiger Makes Out, based on their Off-Broadway success in The Tiger and The Typists. She earned much acclaim in 1968 as the neglected spouse posing as a call girl in The Secret Life of an American Wife; as a nun involved in a Watergate-like break-in in the satirical Nasty Habits (1976); as a psychiatrist in The Bell Jar (1979); and as Tom Selleck's mother in Folks! (1992). Jackson's work in TV dates to 1949, when she appeared in an episode of "Academy Theatre," and she worked steadily in the days of live televised theater. She is the author of an autobiography, Early Stages (1979).

Richard Frankel, 2003 Theater Alumnus of the Year, was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1947. Encouraged by two high school drama teachers, he worked at the age of sixteen as a lighting operator in the nightclub of a Catskills resort hotel. While attending Brooklyn College he worked at night on The Barry Farber Show, a daily three-hour radio talk show. After graduation, Frankel joined the Peace Corps and lived in Ethiopia from 1968 to 1970.

He launched his off-off Broadway career upon his return and went to Europe as a stage manager with a LaMaMa Experimental Theatre Club troupe and worked for two years in Holland at the Mickery Theatre and in the United Kingdom as the stage manager of El Grande de Coca Cola.

In 1975 he began working in marketing, fundraising, and general management in not-for-profit theaters, becoming the marketing director and public relations director for the Circle Repertory Company in New York in 1978. Frankel was managing director of the company from 1982 to 1985, and worked on more than forty world premieres, including plays by Lanford Wilson (Talley's Folly, Fifth of July, Angels Fall, A Tale Told), David Mamet (Reunion, Dark Pony), A. R. Gurney, Jules Pfeiffer, Terrence McNally and Sam Shepard (Fool for Love).

In 1985 he launched Richard Frankel Productions with the successful Off-Broadway production of Penn & Teller. Together with partners Marc Routh, Tom Viertel, and Steve Baruch, he produced Driving Miss Daisy, Sills and Company, Frankie and Johnnie in the Clair de Lune, The Cocktail Hour, and Love Letters.

Their first musical, Song of Singapore, was followed by Paul Rudnick's Jeffrey; the international percussion sensation Stomp, which has had three companies playing in the United States since 1994; the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Angels in America; Hal Prince's Grandchild of Kings; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with Nathan Lane and then Whoopie Goldberg; The Mystery of Irma Vep with Everett Quinton; Communicating Doors, Tap Dogs, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, and Forever Tango.

Recent Broadway musicals and tours have included Mel Brooks's The Producers, winner of 12 Tony Awards, the most in Broadway theater history; Hairspray, a musical version of the John Waters film with music by Marc Shaiman; Smokey Joe's Café, the longest running revue in Broadway history; The Sound of Music with Richard Chamberlain; The Original Broadway Swing, and The Rocky Horror Show Live. In 2002, productions produced and managed by Richard Frankel Productions played 2,497 performances and grossed $135,361,008.75 while performing in 82 cities. Plays produced by Frankel, Routh, Viertel, and Baruch have received 2 Pulitzer Prizes, 23 Tony Awards, 17 Drama Desk Awards, 20 Outer Critics Circle Awards, a Lucille Lortel Award, 2 John Gassner Playwrighting Awards, 2 Drama Critics Circle Awards, 6 Obie Awards, and a Grammy Award.

 

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