American theater and television producer Alexander H. Cohen (1920-2000), whose multifaceted producing career spanned several decades introduced many innovations in marketing and audience development techniques.
Known early on as "Broadway's Millionaire Boy Angel," Cohen began his involvement with the theater at an early age, running two summer theaters on Long Island and investing in such hit Broadway productions as Angel Street (1941). In the late 1940s, Cohen went to work for the Bulova Watch Company, where, as Director of Publicity and Advertising, he created the first licensed Academy Award merchandise. He also honed his producing skills under veteran Broadway producer Herman Levin, working on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949) and My Three Angels (1954). In the mid-1950s, Cohen established his own public relations firm, Interscope, Incorporated. Having divorced his first wife, Jocelyn Newmark, Cohen married Hildy Parks, an actress, in 1956. Parks also would become his professional partner, both as producer and scriptwriter. In 1959 Cohen set up the London Company to develop productions for both Broadway and the West End, maintaining a London office for some ten years. Cohen presented several productions in London and throughout his career, many of Cohen's North American productions would have a decidedly British flavor. Cohen's theater productions numbered more than 100; among the most notable were the John Gielgud-directed Hamlet (1964), starring Richard Burton, and Harold Pinter's The Homecoming (1967), which won the 1967 Tony Award for Best Play. Cohen also produced a number of musicals, including Baker Street by Raymond Jessel and Marian Grudeff (1965), for which he employed a colorful and massive marketing campaign.
It may have been television, however, that truly provided the opportunity, the budget, and the venue to give life to productions matching Cohen's sense of scale. In 1967, he conceived and originated the national Tony Awards telecast and both Cohen and Parks would produce the awards show until 1986 (with Parks also writing the scripts). The team also was responsible for the three Night of 100 Stars programs (1982, 1985, and 1990) to raise money for the Actors' Fund of America. The couple also produced the Emmy Awards broadcasts in 1978, 1985, and 1986, as well as numerous other television specials. In addition to his producing activities, Cohen supervised the building of the O'Keefe Centre in Toronto, which he managed for its first three years of operation. He also managed the Erlanger and Locust Street Theatres in Philadelphia, the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore, and the Rich Forum for the Stamford Center for the Arts at various points in his career. Cohen was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Tony Award, Emmy Award, and the Academy Award; he also was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame.
From the description of Alexander H. Cohen papers, 1880-2003 (bulk 1938-2003). (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 144682730