Co-Writer on Broadway’s Hair Dead

James Rado, the actor, playwright, and composer best known for co-writing the seminal 1967 musical Hair, died on Tuesday (June 21). He is 90 years old.

The news was announced by Rado’s longtime friend, publicist Merle Frimark (via New York Times), who said the Broadway legend died of cardiorespiratory arrest in Manhattan surrounded by his family.

James Alexander Radomski was born on January 23, 1932 in Los Angeles. He grew up between Rochester, New York, and Washington, DC, and went on to study Speech and Drama at the University of Maryland. In college, he wrote his first musicals, inspired by the likes of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Rodgers & Hart, and Cole Porter, as well as pop music from the 1930s onwards. After spending two years after finishing service in the U.S. Navy, Rado moved to New York City in 1956 to pursue acting.

According to Frimark, writing and musical on Broadway has been Rado’s dream since a young age. He accomplished that goal with Marathon ’33, debuted on Broadway in 1963. The following year, he met fellow actor and songwriter Gerome Ragni, with whom he quickly became friends and began writing Hair.

Ragni gives the hair script to producer Joseph Papp during a one -time encounter on a train. Papp was sold, and the music was chosen to open his newly built Public Theater. hair made its worldwide debut on October 17, 1967, under the direction of Gerald Freedman, and ran in the Public Theater for eight weeks.

With an advanced script and 17 new actors, hair went on to open at Broadway’s Biltmore Theater on April 29, 1968. With Rado and Ragni also starring, the show became a cultural event, running for 1,750 performances. Considered especially controversial at the time for descriptions of drug use in entertainment, sexuality, and the anti-Vietnam War movement (not yet included that horrible nude scene), hair produced over a dozen worldwide productions and a 1979 film adaptation.

Songs from hair The soundtrack is covered by a huge list of big name artists including Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand, Nina Simone, The Lemonheads, and Diana Ross. The Broadway cast album spent 13 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. hairThe original Broadway cast was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Music, and took home a Grammy for Best Score From the Original Cast Show Album. Its 2009 revival won Tony for Best Revival.

Rado was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009. He remained active until his death, working on several other films and directing worldwide productions of Hair.

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