American theatre-film director Jack Hofsiss, who became the youngest to win the Tony Award for his staging of “The Elephant Man”, has died. He was 65.
The director passed away on September 13 at his Manhattan home, confirmed by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office, which gave no cause of death pending an autopsy, reported Deadline.
“I knew him as an artist and even more so as an amazing, deeply kind person,” said producer James Freydberg. “I was
very strong supporter of his. He cared about everyone. I would hear from him usually when he had something he wanted me to look at.”
While still in college, Hofsiss co-created and staged “Senior Prom”, a musical that by all accounts was Broadway bound, though it never completed the journey.
Hofsiss was working for Joseph Papp at the Public Theater when an up-and-coming producer named Richmond Crinkley sent him Bernard Pomerance’s script about John Merrick, a grotesquely deformed man who transitions from freak show act to social darling in Victorian London.
A minimalist production centered primarily on the physical grace of actor Philip Anglim opened in the Theater at St Peter’s Church before moving to the intimate Booth Theatre in Shubert Alley.
The show led to more assignments for Hofsiss in film and opera, including another story drawn from life about the addiction to Valium of filmmaker Barbara Gordon that became the basis of “I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can”.
In 1985, Hofsiss dived into a pool and suffered a spinal cord injury, resulting in paralysis up to his mid-chest.
He spent eight months at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine and uses a wheelchair. Just months after the accident he returned to the theater scene, directing “All the Way Home” at the Berkshire Theatre Festival.