BEN BAGLEY (b. 1933- d. 1998)
BEN BAGLEY was one of the true innovators of American Musical Theatre in the second half of the 20th century. He was profiled in Playbill, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Theatre Magazine, After Dark and by Ken Bloom in Show Music and by Sheridan Morley for BBC Radio. Born in Vermont during the Great Depression, Bagley's grandmother introduced him to the theatre with annual treks to Broadway, and he made his move to NYC in the early fifties. In 1955 at age 22 he produced his first hit, SHOESTRING REVUE, featuring the songs of Charles Strouse, Lee Adams, Sheldon Harnick and June Carroll and featuring Beatrice Arthur, Chita Rivera, Dody Goodman, Arte Johnson and Dorothy Greener. The following year he produced THE LITTLEST REVUE, written by the same team along with Ogden Nash and Vernon Duke and featuring Tammy Grimes, Joel Gray, Charlotte Ray and Larry Storch. In 1957 Bagley presented SHOESTRING '57 with a score by Strouse and Adams, Carolyn Leigh and the pre-FANTASTICKS team of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, among others. In 1965 Bagley turned to the lesser known songs of Cole Porter to create one of the most successful revues of all time, THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ENTIRE WORLD AS SEEN THROUGH THE EYES OF COLE PORTER. The show ran for 15 months in New York, toured thereafter and featured Kaye Ballard, Harold Lang, Carmen Alvarez, Elmarie Wendel, William Hickey, Bobby Short, Tammy Grimes and Dody Goodman, among others.
On his own record label, Painted Smile Records, Ben Bagley produced an astounding 48 albums including his legendary "Revisited" series featuring the songs of Rodgers & Hart, Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Kurt Weill, Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, Harold Rome, Dietz & Schwartz and many others. His recordings featured such luminaries as Barbara Cook, Cab Calloway, Tommy Tune, Elaine Stritch, Bobby Short, Anthony Perkins, Richard Chamberlain, Kaye Ballard, Ann Hampton Callaway, Blossom Dearie, Gloria De Haven, Dolores Gray, Gloria Swanson and Katharine Hepburn.