( b. Nov 08, 1921 New York, New York, USA - d. Mar 28, 2015 East Hampton, New York, USA ) Male
Gene Saks was an actor who switched to stage and film directing in midcareer, and becoming the leading interpreter of the plays of Neil Simon.
As a director, Mr. Saks focused on comedy, and he excelled with the kind of snappy, battle-of-the-sexes material that might be termed the theater of repartee.
Mr. Saks directed what many critics considered Mr. Simon's more serious comedies and his finest and deepest work - Lost in Yonkers (1991), which won the Tony for best play and the Pulitzer Prize for drama, and the original productions of Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983) and Biloxi Blues (1985).
Sakes was born Jean Michael Saks - he legally changed the spelling of his name as an adult - was born to Morris Saks and the former Beatrix Leukowitz. His father ran a wholesale women's shoe business. He graduated from Cornell and, after serving in the Navy during World War II - he took part in the Normandy invasion - studied acting at the New School for Social Research and the Actors Studio.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, Mr. Saks appeared as a performer on Broadway in small roles in a number of hit shows, including South Pacific; The Tenth Man by Paddy Chayefsky; and A Shot in the Dark. His best-known stage role was as a temperamental and phony children's television star, Leo Herman, a.k.a. Chuckles the Chipmunk, in the 1962 Herb Gardner comedy A Thousand Clowns.. He reprised the role in the 1965 film, but by then he was mostly a director.
"He could direct actors to be funny, but he wasn't funny himself," said Emanuel Azenberg, "He would say, 'This is funny, 'in a very serious way. And you'd laugh, because THAT was funny. All of those fundamentals - pacing, timing, line readings - that had to do with: If you said it this way it would be funny, but if you said it another way it wouldn't be funny. That's what he was good at.
Source: New York Times Obituary
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