NEW YORK – Roger Berlind, who produced or coproduced more than 100 plays and musicals on Broadway, including such critical and box-office hits as "The Book of Mormon," "Dear Evan Hansen," "City of Angels" and revivals of "Guys and Dolls" and "Kiss Me, Kate," died Dec. 18 at his home in Manhattan. He was 90.
His family said the cause was cardiopulmonary arrest.
During a four-decade career in the theater, Berlind backed some of the most original work on Broadway and amassed an astonishing 25 Tony Awards, one of the largest hauls on record. (Hal Prince, another prodigious Tony-winning producer, collected 21.)
Berlind helped bring buoyant musicals to the stage, like the smash 1992 revival of "Guys and Dolls" with Nathan Lane, as well as sophisticated literate dramas, like the original 1984 production of "The Real Thing," Tom Stoppard's dazzling exploration of the nature of love and honesty. "The Real Thing" swept the Tonys, winning for best play and best director (Mike Nichols) and garnering top acting awards for Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close and Christine Baranski.
His route to Broadway was indirect. Able to play the piano by ear, he fancied himself a songwriter, but his dream of making a living that way fell flat and he went to work on Wall Street.
He was a partner at a brokerage firm when tragedy struck: His wife and three of his four children were killed in an airliner crash at Kennedy International Airport. Within days, he resigned from his firm. "The whole idea of building a business and making money didn't make sense anymore," he told the New York Times in 1998. "There was no more economic motivation."
After a period in the wilderness, he found his way to Broadway, which helped him rebuild his life and establish a whole new career.
"The significant thing about Roger is that he made an incredible turnaround," said his second wife, Brook Berlind, in an interview. "His life was utterly bifurcated by the accident. There was Act I and Act II. I don't think many other people could have gone on to such success after such catastrophe."
Success on Broadway came slowly. Berlind's first production, in 1976, was the disastrous "Rex," a Richard Rodgers musical about Henry VIII, which Times theater critic Clive Barnes said "has almost everything not going for it."
After "Rex," Berlind coproduced six other shows before he had his first hit with the original 1980 production of "Amadeus," in which a mediocre composer burns with jealousy over the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The play, written by Peter Shaffer, directed by Peter Hall and starring Ian McKellen and Tim Curry, took home several Tonys, including best play.
Two more successes quickly followed: "Sophisticated Ladies," a 1981 revue with music by Duke Ellington; and "Nine," a 1982 musical based on the Fellini film "8½" about a tortured film director facing professional and romantic crises.
Along the way were plenty of flops.
One of Berlind's achievements was staying in the game. Despite the challenges, he took chances on shows because he believed in them.
"I know it's not worth it economically," he told the Times in 1998. "But I love theater."
His successes included "Proof," "Doubt," "The History Boys," the 2012 revival of "Death of a Salesman" with Philip Seymour Hoffman and the 2017 revival of "Hello, Dolly!" with Bette Midler.
Scott Rudin, who produced about 30 shows with Berlind, said that Berlind was propelled by "enormous fortitude and persistence."
Roger Stuart Berlind was born on June 27, 1930, in Brooklyn to Peter Berlind, a hospital administrator, and Mae (Miller) Berlind, an amateur painter who gave painting lessons while raising her four sons.