DIARY: Merry prankster takes a final bow

When David Merrick died late last month, the theater world lost more than one of its great impresarios - it also lost one of its boldest publicists.

When David Merrick died late last month, the theater world lost more than one of its great impresarios - it also lost one of its boldest publicists.

When David Merrick died late last month, the theater world lost

more than one of its great impresarios - it also lost one of its boldest

publicists.



Merrick, the producer of 42nd Street and Hello, Dolly!, once said, ’I’ll

do anything to sell my plays,’ and he backed up this assertion with a

series of stunts that never failed to generate attention.



When his musical Subways Are for Sleeping opened to weak reviews in

1961, he located seven New Yorkers with the same names as the town’s

prominent critics, and got them to give the show raves - which he

promptly trumpeted in a full-page ad. And to ensure a loud opening for

42nd Street, he announced the death of Gower Champion (the director of

the movie upon which the show was based) before a stunned opening-night

crowd.



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