Photo: Danny Perez for the Times Square Alliance.
The Broadway community honors the memory of Philip J. Smith, the esteemed Chairman Emeritus of The Shubert Organization who was highly regarded for his contributions to American theatre for more than 63 years. Mr. Smith passed away on January 15, 2021, at the age of 89. In his honor, the Committee of Theatre Owners will dim the lights of Broadway theatres in New York for one minute on Tuesday, March 22 at exactly 6:30pm.
Mr. Smith began his career at The Shubert Organization in 1957 as box office treasurer at the Imperial Theatre. He would rise through the ranks and work throughout each department within the company. By 1970, he was named General Manager of all Shubert Theatres and in 1971, he was instrumental in introducing the use of credit cards as a method of purchasing theatre tickets. As Shubert Vice President in the early 1980s, Mr. Smith played a key role in ensuring Broadway’s transition into the digital age. With the creation of Telecharge, he revolutionized the way tickets were purchased, allowing for accessibility of tickets to theatregoers. He was also known for helping to establish the Times Square TKTS discount ticket booth.
After serving more than 15 years as Executive Vice President, Mr. Smith was named President of The Shubert Organization in 1996. He was appointed Chairman and Co-CEO in 2008. He also served as a Director and Chairman of The Shubert Foundation. Mr. Smith retired in 2020 and became Chairman Emeritus. Mr. Smith was most involved with The Broadway League having served on the Board of Governors from 1984-2020 as well as the Executive Committee and the Labor Committee. He was a familiar and beloved Broadway figure who would attend nearly every opening night performance for more than 60 years.
“Phil Smith was the epitome of class and a true treasure to the community,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League. “His work on behalf of Broadway was extraordinary and we were most fortunate at the League for his 36 years of service where he made a great difference serving on the Board of the League, the Executive Committee, and the Labor Committee. He was a master storyteller and a passionate Broadway lover who devoted his life and career to keeping Broadway vibrant and successful. He has left a lasting legacy to the city of New York and to Broadway.”
Mr. Smith’s Broadway biography can be found on the Internet Broadway Database.