Producer, Stage Manager
( b. Sep 15, 1916 Brooklyn, New York, USA - d. Jun 30, 2006 Dana Point, California, USA ) Male
Arthur Lewis, who died on June 30 aged 89, had a show business career which spanned decades and both sides of the Atlantic; he produced and directed the original West End production of Guys and Dolls in 1953 and then returned a decade later to present, with Bernard Delfont, a succession of plays and musicals.
He won two Evening Standard Drama Awards for Best Musical. The first, in 1964, was for Little Me, which he also directed and in which Bruce Forsyth gave a fine performance in the leading role. The second, in 1966, was for Funny Girl, which starred Barbra Streisand in her West End debut.
Arthur Lewis was born at Brooklyn, New York, on September 15, 1916, the elder son of Albert Lewis, an eminent Broadway and Hollywood producer. He was educated at Beverly Hills High School, the University of Southern California and the Yale School of Drama. He spent the Second World War in the US Army Signal Corps, largely making training, propaganda and morale-boosting films, as well as carrying out photographic assignments. Stationed in New York, he shared an apartment with Cy Feuer, who was to play a large part in his professional life; they remained lifelong friends.
After the war, Lewis went to work for 20th Century Fox as a screenwriter. Collaborating with his father, he wrote the screenplay for "Oh You Beautiful Doll" (1949) and the story for "Golden Girl" (1951). Both these movies were produced by George Jessel, who had starred in the original Broadway production of The Jazz Singer (1925), which Albert Lewis had produced and directed. The two Lewises then produced their only Broadway musical together, Three Wishes for Jamie, in 1952. After writing another movie, "The Conquest of Cochise," Arthur went to work for Cy Feuer and Ernie Martin.
His first job for them was to produce and direct the London version of their hit musical Guys and Dolls, which opened at the Coliseum in 1953. While in London, Lewis came across a small musical called The Boy Friend, which he convinced Martin and then Feuer to expand and take to Broadway. Lewis was instrumental in casting the then unknown Julie Andrews in the lead role.
He worked as the associate producer on Can-Can (1953), The Boy Friend (1954) and Silk Stockings (1955) for Feuer and Martin. Changing career direction, Lewis then moved into television and produced three series, "Brenner" (1959), "The Asphalt Jungle" (1961), and "the Nurses" (1962).
But the lure of the theatre proved too much and, in 1963, he staged the London production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Over the next six years, Lewis, originally in conjunction with Bernard Delfont only, produced more than 14 West End plays and musicals, of which he directed four.
The musicals included Little Me (1964), with Bruce Forsyth; Our Man Crichton (1965), with Kenneth More and Millicent Martin; Funny Girl (1966), with Barbra Streisand and Michael Craig; Joey Joey (1966), with Ron Moody; Queenie (1967), with Vivienne Martin and Paul Eddington; and Golden Boy (1968), with Sammy Davis Jr.
The non-musicals included A Thousand Clowns (1964); Barefoot in the Park (1965); The Solid Gold Cadillac (1965); The Odd Couple (1966); and The Owl and the Pussycat (1966).
His final theatrical production was an attempt to introduce Frankie Howerd to American audiences on Broadway in Rockefeller and the Red Indians, written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson and based on a French comedy.
Lewis was a meticulous, hands-on producer with a fine eye for detail, and a good director. He often used the same people in different productions, building up a loyal corps of actors, actresses and dancers.
With a changing climate in the West End in the late 1960s, Lewis moved into film production and shot two movies in England. The first was "Loot!" (1970), based on the Joe Or