Gene Saks (November 8, 1921 – March 28, 2015) was an American stage and film director and actor.
Saks was born Jean Michael Saks in New York City, the son of Beatrix (née Lewkowitz) and Morris J. Saks. He studied at Cornell University and trained for acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the German director Erwin Piscator.
Saks made his acting debut on Broadway in South Pacific in 1949. On stage he also appeared in A Shot in the Dark, The Tenth Man, and A Thousand Clowns, in the role of Leo "Chuckles The Chipmunk" Herman, which he reprised in the film version. He portrayed Jack Lemmon's brother in the screen adaptation of Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue, and also appeared in Nobody's Fool starring Paul Newman.
Saks shared a long-term professional association with playwright/comedy writer Neil Simon, directing Simon's plays Biloxi Blues, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Jake's Women, Rumors, Lost in Yonkers, Broadway Bound, The Odd Couple, and California Suite. Additional Broadway credits include Enter Laughing; Half a Sixpence; Nobody Loves an Albatross; Mame; I Love My Wife; Same Time, Next Year; and Rags.
Among Saks' film directing credits are Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Cactus Flower (which won Goldie Hawn the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress), Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Mame, Brighton Beach Memoirs, A Fine Romance, So I Married an Axe Murderer (uncredited) and the 1995 television production of Bye Bye Birdie.
Saks was married to fellow Actors Studio member, actress Bea Arthur, from 1950-1980. The couple had two sons, by adoption. He had a daughter by his second wife Keren Saks. Saks died from pneumonia in his East Hampton home on March 28, 2015.
Awards, nominations and honours
- 1977 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical - I Love My Wife
- 1983 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play - Brighton Beach Memoirs
- 1985 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play - Biloxi Blues
- 1965 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical - Half a Sixpence
- 1966 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical - Mame
- 1969 DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Movie - The Odd Couple
- 1975 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play - Same Time, Next Year
- 1975 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play - Same Time, Next Year
- 1977 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical - I Love My Wife
- 1985 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play - Biloxi Blues
- 1987 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play - Broadway Bound
- 1991 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play - Lost in Yonkers
- Inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1991.
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