Margaret Styne, the widow of Broadway composer Jule Styne who oversaw an estate and legacy that includes the much anticipated upcoming revival of Funny Girl, has died.
A longtime presence in the Broadway community, her death was announced by Jule Styne, Inc. in a Facebook post Feb. 15 that was more widely shared in a tweet today by Funny Girl producers Sonia Friedman, Scott Landis and David Babani and director Michael Mayer. Their revival of the classic musical, starring Beanie Feldstein, Jane Lynch, Ramin Karimloo and Jared Grimes, begins previews March 26 at the August Wilson Theatre, with opening night set for April 24.
Additional details regarding Styne’s death were not made public in keeping with her wishes.
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“Over the years, Margaret Styne has always been a passionate advocate, supporter, and colleague to all of us working on Funny Girl,” said the producers and director in a joint statement posted on social media. “She was a force of nature, a brilliant storyteller in her own right and represented her husband Jule Styne’s genius legacy with creativity and imagination. We’ll miss her dearly, but her spirit will be imbued in our Broadway production of Funny Girl.”
Born Margaret Brown in Torquay, England, she began a successful modeling career in 1953 and soon after began acting. She appeared on The Ernie Kovacs Show during its 1961-62 season and was under contract with 20th Century Fox when the producer Ray Stark invited her to dinner as a blind date for Broadway lyricist Bob Merrill.
In a 2006 interview with Broadway journalist Peter Filichia, Styne recalled how the 1962 blind date took a turn for the unexpected. “There was a widow next to Bob, and they went off together,” she said. Another of the dinner guests that night was Merrill’s songwriting partner: Margaret and Jule Styne were married just a few weeks later, their marriage ending 32 years later with the composer’s death.
Upon her husband’s death in 1994, Margaret Styne became the trustee of his estate. In the Facebook post, the Styne organization noted, “She took great pride in her new position and was a great advocate for Jule’s music establishing a new focus on the preservation of his musical legacy as well as overseeing several revivals of his shows both off and on Broadway. You can be sure she was around for all those productions peppering each rehearsal room with stories about Jule, his collaborators and various out-of-town tales she was lucky enough to have witnessed first-hand. Margaret’s enthusiasm and tenacity will be missed and we hope to carry the torch with as much heart and dedication as she did. And just for the record, her favorite Jule Styne songs were ‘The Ballet of the Red Shoes’ and ‘I, Yes Me, That’s Who’.”
Among Jule Styne’s other works are such Broadway classics as Gypsy and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. His many songwriting credits include the Oscar-winning “Three Coins in the Fountain,” as well as such standards as “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “People.”
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