The Executive Director
DOROTHY LOUDON was born in Boston on September 17, 1925 (most sources incorrectly cite her birth year as 1933) and grew up in Claremont, New Hampshire. She was the daughter of Dorothy Shaw and James Loudon...
"This exhibition, funded by a generous grant from the Dorothy Loudon Foundation, presents a digital preview of just a small portion of the many treasures preserved in the Dorothy Loudon Papers at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts." NYPL
Lionel Larner with Dorothy Loudon
Lionel Larner with his TONY award winning clients Barry Bostwick and Dorothy Loudon
The Executive Director
LIONEL LARNER was born in Southampton, England and grew up in London and Wiltshire. He attended the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, Britain's oldest theatre arts training school, where Noel Coward first met Gertrude Lawrence. Later he worked as an office boy for Mr. Frederick W. Marlowe who booked vaudeville acts and also ran the Intimate Theatre Palmer's Green, started by Sir Richard Attenborough where they performed a different play every week. At the inception of Commercial Television in England, he joined the casting department of Associated Rediffusion (now ITV) and later worked in the same capacity at the BBC.
In 1956 Otto Preminger hired him as Casting Director on his motion picture of Shaw's Saint Joan which starred Jean Seberg. In 1958 under Mr. Preminger's sponsorship he sailed into New York harbour aboard the Ile de France "on his way to stardom", which momentarily eluded him. Not being able to find employment, he worked at the American Bible Society. In 1959 he was hired as an assistant to Martin Baum, a well-known New York agent (who later became a partner at CAA). He was shortly promoted to agent himself and his first client was Carroll O'Connor whom he discovered in the 1959 off Broadway production of Clifford Odet's The Big Knife directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
Mr. Larner, has been an agent for over fifty years and has had his own agency Lionel Larner Ltd for more than forty years representing a cavalcade of stars. A partial list of his clients past and present have included Eve Arden, Hermione Baddeley, Anne Baxter, John Bury, (set and lighting designer Amadeus) David Birney, Sidney Blackmer, Janet Blair, Larry Blyden, Barry Bostwick, Michael Chiklis, Lois Chiles, Audrey Christie, Fred Clark, Dabney Coleman, Cyril Cusack, Bette Davis, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Sandy Dennis, Maurice Evans, Mia Farrow, Jose Ferrer, Penny Fuller, Boyd Gaines, Vincent Gardenia, Susan George, Anita Gillette, Hermione Gingold, Tony Goldwyn, Martyn Greene, Harry Guardino, Murray Hamilton, David Hersey, (lighting designer Cats) Judd Hirsch, Celeste Holm, Miriam Hopkins, Kim Hunter, Burl Ives, Glenda Jackson, Glynis Johns, Stacy Keach, Arthur Kennedy, Hope Lange, Sam Levene, Dorothy Loudon, David McCallum, Simon McCorkindale, Ethel Merman, Keith Michell, Ray Milland, Juliet Mills, Agnes Moorehead, Michael Nouri, Hugh O'Brian, Carroll O'Connor, Donald O'Connor, Jenny O'Hara, Maureen O'Sullivan, Catherine Oxenburg, Anthony Perkins, Brock Peters, Madeleine Potter, Lonny Price, Jose Quintero, Charlotte Rae, William Redfield, Lynn Redgrave, Dame Diana Rigg, George Sanders, Martha Scott, Zachary Scott, Marian Seldes, Carole Shelley, Ann Sheridan, Sylvia Sidney, Marti Stevens, Arthur Treacher, Nancy Walker, Robert Webber, Jack Weston, Mary Wickes, and Nicol Williamson. He has been written about in numerous biographies and theatre-related books including those on David Merrick, Bob Fosse, Bette Davis, Otto Preminger, Ethel Merman, and many others.
In 1968, the late Harry Rigby the Broadway producer who was living in an apartment in Dorothy Loudon's East 83rd St. townhouse, introduced Dorothy Loudon to Lionel Larner. Mr. Rigby held Lionel in high esteem because of his invaluable help to him and his producing partner Lewis Allen with casting and assembling the creative talent when they were mounting the Broadway show Half a Sixpence. It is of interest to note, that included in the many clients Lionel had in the show, was a young John Cleese long before his international fame.
The meeting of Lionel and Dorothy began for want of a better word, a love affair between agent and client. They had a close friendship that lasted until her death in 2003. In her will Dorothy named Mr. Larner as Trustee and Executive Director of a Charitable Foundation to be formed.
As "keeper of the flame" Mr. Larner works diligently to fulfill the mission of the Foundation and at the same time to keep the memory of Dorothy Loudon's talent fresh in people's minds and to familiarize younger Broadway talent and audiences with her legacy. In addition to funding the arts, the Foundation also has supported the hungry both locally and internationally, AIDS research related charities, and disaster-relief programs.
In 2005, when the Foundation was formed, Mr. Larner campaigned successfully for Dorothy's inclusion in the Theatre Hall of Fame to which she was inducted posthumously that same year at a star-studded ceremony at the George Gershwin Theatre. A star dressing room in her name was built with a grant from the Foundation in the new Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia. Two scholarships were funded by the Foundation at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, one for an actor or actress of merit requiring financial assistance and another for a young composer in memory of Dorothy's husband, the late composer Norman Paris.
Since Dorothy Loudon's career began in cabaret, an award for Excellence in the World of Cabaret was created in 2008 (check year). The first award was given to Gregory Moore and his Cosmopolitan Orchestra at the Mabel Mercer Cabaret Convention in Rose Hall. It is a coveted award because it is not given annually, but only in a year when a worthy performer appears.
In 2009, the Dorothy Loudon Starbaby Award for Excellence in the theatre was created. The recipient of that first award was Susan Louise O'Connor for her performance as the maid in the 2009 Broadway revival of Blithe Spirit which starred Angela Lansbury. At the 2010 Theatre World Awards, Mr. Larner introduced Kate Burton who presented Bobby Steggart with the Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theatre for his performances off-Broadway in Yank! and on Broadway in Ragtime.
As executor of Ms. Loudon's estate, Mr. Larner donated her scrapbooks, letters, photographs, and extensive theatre memorabilia to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. The Foundation then provided a substantial grant to the Library to catalog and archive this collection so that it is available to interested parties both at the Library and on the Library's website.
Furthermore, her vast collections of videos spanning her career was donated to the The Paley Center for Media from which they produced a one hour show with highlights spanning her career which Mr. Larner introduced to an invited audience. This program is available to view by visiting The Paley Center for Media in Manhattan.
Mr. Larner takes his work at the Foundation very seriously, carefully reviewing each grant application. He tirelessly audits theatres personally for potential grants as well as those to whom grants have already been awarded. He discusses those that meet the Foundation's requirements with the Trustees at the Spring and Fall meetings when the grants are decided.
Dorothy Loudon's death was a deep personal loss to Mr. Larner. He is proud to continue his representation of her, doing good work in her name to a profession that embraced her so warmly, through his work with the Foundation.
He lives in Manhattan in a penthouse where Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne once lived, and also in Wainscott, Long Island. He is currently working on his memoirs tentatively entitled Boy in the Gallery.