Broadway caricaturist Al Hirschfeld dies. The 99-year-old cartoonist immortalized 75 years worth of stage and screen actors

By Gary Susman
January 21, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Richard Crenna: Fred Prouser/Reuters/Newscom

Al Hirschfeld, whose illustrations of Broadway, screen, and TV actors graced the pages of the New York Times for more than 75 years, died in his sleep on Sunday, the Times reports. He was 99 and died at the Manhattan apartment where he lived and worked. His caricatures, marked by elegant, flowing lines, and by hidden inclusions of his daughter Nina’s name, were hung in museums and galleries, and being immortalized by his pen was a sign that an actor had truly arrived.

Hirschfeld began drawing Broadway actors for the Times in 1926 and continued until his death. His long career was itself immortalized in the 1996 Oscar-nominated documentary about him, ”The Line King.” His place in the Broadway firmament was so secure that he was to be the second living person (after playwright Neil Simon) to have a Broadway theater named after him, had he lived to his 100th birthday. On that day, June 21, the Martin Beck Theater will be renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theater.