Partner Nicholas Tsacrios
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90007, Stati Uniti
José Benjamín Quintero (15 October 1924 – 26 February 1999) was a Panamanian theatre director, producer and pedagogue best known for his interpretations of the works of Eugene O'Neill.
Quintero was born in Panama City, Panama, the third of 3 children, to Carlos Rivera Quintero, from Spain, and Consuelo Palmerola. As a boy he was an acolyte, though he described his childhood in other ways as a disaster—the result of a domineering and overbearing father. He was educated in the United States at Los Angeles City College, and later at the University of Southern California, where he decided on a career in theatre. After notification of his intention, his father, who wanted him to be a physician, declared him dead, leading to Jose's seven-year estrangement from his family.
Quintero co-founded the Circle in the Square Theatre in Greenwich Village with Theodore Mann in 1951; this is regarded as the birth of Off-Broadway theatre. He became one of the most celebrated Broadway and Off Broadway directors and producers and worked with some of the greatest names in American theatre. His own name is inextricably linked to that of the American playwright Eugene O'Neill. Quintero's interest contributed to the rediscovery of O'Neill. Quintero staged several of his works, including The Iceman Cometh in 1956, which launched the career of Jason Robards. Later that year, Quintero's production of the New York premiere of Long Day's Journey into Night established his reputation as the quintessential director of O'Neill's dramas and won Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Actor (Fredric March). In 1963, he directed Strange Interlude, with a cast which included Geraldine Page, Jane Fonda, Franchot Tone, Ben Gazzara, Pat Hingle and Betty Field. In 1967, he directed Ingrid Bergman in More Stately Mansions in Los Angeles and New York. In 1968, Quintero traveled to México to direct the Mexican star Dolores del Río in The Lady of the Camellias but was dismissed by the actress because of his problem with alcohol. His production of A Moon for the Misbegotten, at the Academy Playhouse, Lake Forest, Illinois in 1973, won the Tony award for Best Direction in 1974. In 1988, he directed the revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night with Jason Robards Jr and Colleen Dewhurst. In the course of his career Quintero directed O'Neill plays nineteen times.
Quintero did not limit himself to the works of O'Neill. He directed over seventy productions by a great number of writers, including Truman Capote, Jean Cocteau, Thornton Wilder, Jean Genet and Brendan Behan. He also directed plays by Tennessee Williams, including the 1952 production of Summer and Smoke which made Geraldine Page a star and the short-lived 1968 production of The Seven Descents of Myrtle. In 1961, he directed Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty in the film version of Williams's The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone which brought Lotte Lenya an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress. In 1973, he also directed three one act plays at the Academy Playhouse in Lake Forest, Illinois. Hello From Bertha, Lady of Larkspur Lotion and The Orchestra. He chose a young actress he'd seen in NYC, Jeanie Columbo, to play the ingenue. Also in those productions were Ralph Williams, Betty Miller, Nancy Wickwire, Charlotte Jones and Janet Dowd. In 1990, he directed Liv Ullmann in Noël Coward's Private Lives at the National Theatre in Oslo. He also directed operas for the Metropolitan Opera and the Dallas Opera.
Quintero was a noted teacher and lectured on theatre and gave master classes in acting at the University of Houston and Florida State University. In 1996 he directed two early O'Neill plays, The Long Voyage Home and Ile, at the Provincetown Repertory Theater in Massachusetts.
Quintero battled alcoholism and with the help of his life partner, Nicholas Tsacrios, was able to defeat his addiction in the 1970s. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1987 that necessitated the removal of his larynx which ultimately led to his 1999 death at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. He remained active until nearly the end of his life.
The Jose Quintero Theatre on West 42nd Street in Manhattan was named in his honor. Quintero is also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 1979.
The Jose Quintero Lab Theatre, a 200 black box theatre used by University of Houston School of Theatre and Dance, is named in his honor.
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