Ann Bowen
1928 - 2021
>Ann Raim Bowen, on the brink of 93, passed away peacefully at home in her beloved Belnord apartment on her beloved Upper West Side on April 24, 2021.



Ann was born in New York City on June 16, 1928, to Goldie and Joseph Raim, and was raised in the Bronx. A "red diaper baby" and an only child beset with allergies and asthma, she was raised in a family of left-wing intellectuals, artists and musicians, and used all of this as the foundation for her career as an actress, as one of the pioneers of improvisational theatre in the 1960s and 70s, and as a celebrated director for the stage, which she continued doing throughout her ninth decade.



She started her directing career at The Second City in Chicago, where she met and married Roger Bowen, who was a founding member of both the Compass Players and The Second City, as well as a novelist, a playwright, and an actor most well known for his role as Colonel Blake in the movie version of M*A*S*H. After they moved to San Francisco, Ann formed the Pitschel Players, a group of political and social satirists that had a ten-year run in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Much of Ann's directing career was on the West Coast. She directed at the Mark Taper Forum, the Los Angeles Theatre Center, and the Matrix and Odyssey Theatres. She received the Dramalogue Best Director Award for her production of Athol Fugard's The Island with Danny Glover and Carl Lumbly. In 1999, she again directed Danny Glover alongside Nobu McCarthy in Philip Ken Gotanda's Yohen.



Ann moved back to New York with Roger in 1980 and went on to direct Off and Off-Off Broadway, including works by playwrights such as Harold Pinter, Sam Shepard, John Patrick Shanley and David Mamet. She also founded the Theatre Gym, which was created as a home base for actors and directors to work on their craft in an atmosphere of supportive, constructive criticism.



Ann was an amazing director, able to pull often brilliant performances from even nonprofessional actors, but to those who knew her and loved her, she went beyond that as a friend, a mentor, and a partner. Witty, curious, an astute observer of human behavior, she was always ready for a celebration, and she created family wherever she went. She was adored by many, but she was adored most by her late husband Roger, and her three children, Michael, Katie and Danny. In addition to her children, she is survived by three grandchildren, including Annie, her partner in Chinese Checkers among other things, who was with her in her final days. Their bond was, and is, unbreakable.



There will be no formal funeral service for Ann, but memorials in New York and Los Angeles will be held at a later time.
Published by New York Times from May 6 to May 7, 2021.
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26 Entries
To be honest, I've not been able to fully accept that Ann has left the earthy realm. Therefore it has taken me all this time to share some memories from the thirty plus years we were friends. In can't describe Ann in a few words because she was everything. A devoted mother to her three children; wife to Roger whom she loved dearly; a beautiful and caring friend and a bold, supremely talented director. Ann loved her family, friends and theatre. I was honored to become a member of theatre gym in 1986 and need less to say it became my second home. Ann directed me in Pinter's The Lover opposite the brilliant Tom McCauley. Ann's love of language and innuendo was breathtaking. The production was a huge success and many people came back for a second and third time. Ann's exploration of the play was detailed and we rehearsed endlessly in their cozy family apartment, #805. I truly felt blessed. As an immigrant to NYC Ann and Roger really made me feel at home and my friendship with Ann continued up until a few months ago when I called her. I was so happy to hear her fabulously raspy voice and hear that great laugh. I have so many beautiful memories I'd love to share, including a dramatic thunderstorm when I took her to lunch at the Boathouse Café. We were drenched and laughed so much. Ann said "how very Chekhovian this feels". I hope top share more memories one day. I have several photos and am going through them now but today I found this letter I'd like to post. Meanwhile I send much love to Katie, Michael and Danny and all Ann's friends and collaborators. I'm deeply grateful to have been Ann's friend and artistic cohort. Also I did see the play Ann mentioned with Danny Glover. She directed it East West Theatre in Los Angeles and it was superb. XO
Anna Simone Scott
Friend
August 11, 2021
Katie, what a lovely bio of your Mom.
Stephen Barry Einbinder
Family
August 5, 2021
My deepest sympathy goes out to the Bowen family. Having been directed by Ann, I will forever cherish those memories of times spent with her. Her genteel respect in listening for what the actor brings to the table, her warm smile, her keen artistic vision, and her love of shared creativity were gifts she gave freely.
Sandra Croft
July 27, 2021
My new friend, Janice Isaac, had this to say about me on her Facebook page: "Katie has been sharing her memories of her mother, and her grief, with FB friends in a way that is very special. So many people are shy about expressing their loss in such an open way, and she does it beautifully. She had a terrific father, too. Katie...you had wonderful parents, and I'm so sorry you lost him so young and that you lost this beautiful, sweet woman." Not only does this comment touch my heart, it´s so beautifully human and makes me feel seen, accepted and understood. It also reminds me that many people are (understandably) afraid of, hide and oftentimes repress their own sadness and despair. I´m not someone who´s ever done that, not because I´m brave, but because I simply wouldn´t know how. So, as I continue to go through this long and heartbreaking process of losing the most significant and important person in my life, I hope some of you will take comfort in what I share (knowing that you´re not alone), and that some of you might connect to and honor your own grief that so far, might be sitting on a shelf, avoided. I don´t post what I´m going through to send a message, or with other people in mind. I post because I´m oftentimes in unbearable pain, and however I can express and release it, while it doesn´t bring back my parents, it goes into and becomes a part of the healing.
Katie Bowen
Family
July 7, 2021
Katie
June 2, 2021
Ann taught me to observe people carefully to find their center, the source of their movement. I admired her commitment to making a life in art and her ability to do that while raising children. She introduced me to the possibility of connecting to an audience, to feeling the beat, working with others to create something that brought people together. I visited her at her apartment in New York, many years after my time in the Pitschel Players, worried that she might be a starving artist. It was wonderful to find her comfortable in her home, a thriving artist, vitally involved with life.
Stephen Thomas
June 1, 2021
Katie Bowen
Daughter
May 19, 2021
A little piece I wrote about my mom a few years ago.

To my mother, life is like a question and she's always seeking answers. To my mother, people are mysteries and like an archeologist who digs for things left behind, or a pirate hunting for gold, she discovers what's inside. To my mother, pain and loss are parts of what we endure, and she endures hers with grace, even when her heart is breaking. To my mother, the future can be frightening, but she values what she has in the moment-her children, her coffee, the way a piece of costume jewelry sparkles on her wrist.

My mother sees people as moving works of art and she's always ready to lift them up, or off a page and onto a stage. She can take an encountered moment, retell it like a dream, and be awed by all of it, day after day after day.

My mother is a great woman of the Universe and a kid from the Bronx. Her dark eyes will never tell you her secrets but nothing is hidden. She lives underground, above the clouds and at the surface, and she is my treasure.
Katie Bowen
Daughter
May 19, 2021
Tina Dobsevage
May 15, 2021
My heart is broken. I don’t know how to move forward in life without Ann. She was my dearest "older sister,” my brilliant mentor and my most cherished friend. It is unfathomable that I must continue without her guidance and wisdom. Ann was my emotional and intellectual rock.

Ann gave so much to me and to so many others. Her insight into human behavior steered my course. I can’t overstate the depth of my love for her. Her passing is an enormous loss for me — and for so many who knew her.

Ann made me feel whole. Our enduring friendship gave me hope when I needed it the most. Her method: be honest, reasonable and loving. Always, with a precious twinkle in her eye.

I don’t know if my life will ever be the same. It won’t.
Marna Lawrence
Friend
May 10, 2021
Dear Ann was among other things one of the most perceptive people I ever met. As a director she had an unerring sense of truth along with what worked theatrically. I will miss our dinners, visits and evenings at the theater. Ann’s humor and warmth always gave a lift to my spirit. I dearly loved Ann and she will be very missed.
John Tyrrell
Friend
May 9, 2021
Ann was remarkable. It is no stretch to say she changed the course of my life, and I am sure there are many others who can say the same.
Abbie Bernstein
Friend
May 9, 2021
Ann with her granddaughter, Annie.
Central Park, 2019.
Katie Bowen
Daughter
May 9, 2021
Mom and her home attendant, Nida. ❤
Katie Bowen
Daughter
May 9, 2021
Katie Bowen
Daughter
May 9, 2021
This ushers in a new phase in my conversation with Ann, always readily resumed, even before and after dear Roger. At Second City in 1962, I decided to suggest they date but was told they had already stepped out together - just the night before! What a gifted director. What a great, long life! What memories. Condolences to Katie and her brother.
Carol Sills
Friend
May 8, 2021
Ann Bowen, I learned so many things from you: How to hug and be affectionate, how to show love, how to love. How to make beauty and how to find beauty in what already exists. How to be brave and authentic even when it hurts and how to find my own truth. How to laugh and how to share. I used to love watching you with Katie, who was the delight of your life and made your eyes glow with warmth. I can still hear the laughter between you two echoing down the years and I will always hear it. “Ka-a-a-a-tie!” you would shriek, when she said something outrageous and you would pretend to be scandalized. So many mothers and daughters are mismatched, but you and Katie were made for each other. I had never seen a bond like yours before and it made me realize what was possible. There was so much love around you and I was lucky that a ray of that love shone on me for a few years of my life.
Tai Moses
Friend
May 8, 2021
Thank you for befriending me and being a confidante for more than forty five years.Thank you for teaching me to drive on the wrong side of the road in your beautiful car.Thank you employing me to do a chores that really didn't need doing but helped me survive!
Finally, thank you for making me feel I was so much more than I am.
David Webb
May 8, 2021
I was Ann’s cousin through marriage. We didn’t spend a lot of time together, but when we did it was always exciting. Ann and Roger, in my mind were-famous. They took Joyce and I. to second city several times front row seats. Both were so encouraging to us regarding a quartet we were in. “The Harvesters”. Ann’s warmth and Roger’s wry humor stays in my memory. May their memory be a blessing to their family and others. Ron Gluck
Ron Gluck
May 7, 2021
Katie Bowen
Daughter
May 6, 2021
Ann and her granddaughter, Annie.
Katie Bowen
Daughter
May 6, 2021
I wish I had known her in her 40’s and 50’s. Even though I met her 2015, I enjoyed her visits with me and mine with her once she no longer left home. She was stoic about her illnesses. Her sense of humor and wit were remarkable until the last week of her life. May she Rest In Peace.
Tina Dobsevage.
May 6, 2021
Every meeting with Ann was a special occasion. Can't imagine what my life -- on stage and off-- would have been without her.
Steve Abbruscato
Friend
May 6, 2021
Every meeting with Ann was a special occasion. Can't imagine what my life would have been without her.
Steve Abbruscato
Friend
May 6, 2021
Best director I ever worked with. Made genius look effortless. Made theater wonderfully human. She was brilliant, funny, sharp and a joy to be around, and on top of all that, a fiercely kind person. So lucky to have met her.
G.K.
Student
May 6, 2021
Wow, legacy is right. What an extraordinary woman. They broke the mold. Wish I’d had the pleasure of knowing her. Unforgettable.
Cheryl Blaylock
Neighbor
May 6, 2021
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