• "It was love from day one. Much love always"
    - Clyde Corke
  • "When my cousin Morty and Gordon entered my family's home,..."
    - Judith Brisman
  • "Rest in peace, Mort. You were much loved, truly unique, and..."

LICHTER--Morton. Morton Lichter died the early morning of January 9th, 15 days short of his 87th birthday. Painter, playwright, teacher, actor, he had been battling Parkinson's Disease for twelve years. Born in Haverstraw, New York, he studied with Raphael Soyer when he was also studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse with Sanford Meisner and dance with Martha Graham. From 1964 to 1980, he divided his time between painting and theater. Earlier, he was on Broadway in The Diary of Anne Frank and Purlie Victorious, and Off-Broadway in the title role of T. S. Eliot's Sweeny Agonistes, directed by Joseph Chaikin. He was Resident Playwright, SUNY at Buffalo (1972-1975), Associate Professor, Brooklyn College (1975-1979), and Adjunct Professor of Humanities at The Cooper Union, New York (1983-1994). Between 1995 and 1999, he was co-director with his husband Gordon Rogoff (married 2011, an elopement after a fifty-year courtship) of Exiles, a summer school for early career professionals in Cork, Ireland and two summers at the University of Coleraine, Northern Ireland. His plays were staged at the Berkshire Theater Festival, Stockbridge, MA; his one-act monologue, Dog in Mouth, inaugurated the Nikos Theater in Williamstown, MA. An early play, Cafeteria Style, was published in yale/theatre, (1967). He was the recipient in 1976 of an OBIE award for his play Old Timers' Sexual Symphony (and other notes), also performed as part of the bicentennial celebration of American theatre in Florence, Italy. Given: No Bread, An Encounter and Dinner for Fifteen was performed in three Italian cities, (1974). In 1980, he received a grant for Creative Writing from the National Endowment of the Arts. His paintings are in private collections in France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, England, Ireland, the US, and Argentina. His recent solo shows were Arguments Against Life in Slow Motion, Art 101, Williamsburg Brooklyn (2016), and Two Sides of One River, Court Tree Gallery, Brooklyn (2018). Other solo shows took place at the Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie, Strasbourg, France (1998), West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen, Ireland (1992), and Galerie Ditesheim, Neuchatel, Switzerland (1983). The late Tomi Ungerer launched Morton's West Cork show saying: "Morton Lichter... lives through his canvas...As a purist among painters, he can be classified as an endangered species. Artists of his intensity are increasingly rare to find." He leaves a congeries of loving friends and family, his sisters Shirley Lehr and Marilyn Birnbaum, nine nephews and nieces, a stream of younger ones, colleagues in art, music, and drama, and the love of his life, Gordon Rogoff. Together nearly 60 years, they have lived since 1962 on the Upper West Side while, in better times, making homes out of old stone houses in the Berkshires, Tuscany, and West Cork. He touched the hearts, minds, and imaginations of countless students, friends, family, and colleagues. Weeks ago, he asked Gordon, "What if I said I don't want to live anymore" Gordon replied: "I won't believe you," and it took only a Beckett- or Pinter-pause for him to say, "I have so much more I want to do." A memorial service will be held TBA, probably late March.

Published in The New York Times on Jan. 15, 2020
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