ROGERS--David Rogers, Broadway playwright who also wrote for television, opera and authored novels and short stories, died on Wednesday, June 5th in Westport, Conn. He was 85.
Of his six Broadway shows, he was best known for his 1981 Tony- nominated musical ""Charlie and Algernon,"" for which he wrote the book and lyrics. The musical debuted in London starring Michael Crawford at the Queen's Theatre in 1979.
Rogers was born in New York City on Dec. 15, 1927. He fell in love with the theatre after his mother, Deborah, took him to see plays at a young age. His career began as a child actor on radio, along side a young Beverly Sills on the Rainbow Hour, and he made his way to Broadway by the age of 17 playing Silvius in the 1945 production of ""As You Like It."" That same year he sold his first written piece, ""The Virgin Sturgeon"" to Gourmet Magazine.
During the Korean War he was drafted and served in the army in the signal core. Upon his return, the GI bill allowed him to study at the Theatre Wing along side Jack Lemmon and Lee Marvin and meet his writing mentor Nancy Hamilton. She championed Rogers' work, submitting several of his sketches to the New Faces Revues which brought him critical acclaim and led to work with other New Faces writers Mel Brooks and Ronny Graham.
Subsequently, Rogers contributed to the Ziegfeld Follies, writing for such stars as Tallulah Bankhead, Beatrice Lillie, Bea Arthur, Carol Haney, and Hermione Gingold. He wrote the revue ""Young At Heart"" for the Crazy Gang in London's West End where his play ""Killing Jessica,"" starring Patrick Macnee, was later produced.
After the war, he wrote for television on such shows as The Jackie Gleason Show and The Carol Burnett Show. His play ""From Here Inside My Head"" was produced at Playwright's Horizons starring Hal Linden. Rogers wrote over 45 plays and musicals published by Dramatic Publishing Co. including adaptations of ""Flowers For Algernon, "" ""Tom Jones,"" and ""Brave New World, the musicals ""Cheaper By the Dozen, "" and ""The Hobbit,"" and original pieces, ""Here and Now"" and ""Soft Soap."" He was commissioned to write the opera ""The Hero"" by Lincoln Center, for which he won the Prix D'Italia, and collaborated over the years with such composers as John Kander, Alan Mencken, and Charles Strouse.
Rogers' five published novels have been translated and printed worldwide and include ""Somewhere There's Music"" and ""The Great American Alimony Escape.""
In the mid 1980's Rogers returned to acting in the Broadway production of ""Doubles"" starring Austin Pendleton and Ron Leibman, ""Broadway"" directed by George Abbott and "" A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"" starring David Alan Grier. He played lead roles off-Broadway, in regional theatres nationally including multiple productions of Old Wicked Songs and toured his one-man show, ""Naked On Broadway.""
Recently he dedicated himself to helping new playwrights and actors learn their craft at the Theatre Artists Workshop of Westport and was a long time board member of the Westport Arts Commission.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years, June L. Walker of Westport, Conn., his daughters, Dulcy Rogers Bader and Amanda Rogers, his son- in -law Diedrich Bader, and four grandchildren: Lucy, Sebastian, Dashiell, and Ondine all of Los Angeles. A memorial will be announced later this summer.
Published by New York Times on Jun. 28, 2013.