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1943 Fifty Years Ago

February 2024
1min read

No Comps for Curmudgeons


Business was so bad on Broadway that the producers began disciplining the critics. Louis Kronenberger had, according to the theatrical sheet Variety , “panned thirty-seven shows of the fifty-two he reviewed” in the 1942-43 Broadway season, and that was enough to rouse the ire of the powerful Shubert brothers. On September 1 of the 1943 season the producers singled out Kronenberger, the drama critic at PM , for punishment. They announced that because of his “unfair, unjust, and cruel” reviews of their theatrical enterprises, no complimentary tickets would be left for him. Talent was scarce, due to the war, but Kronenberger had held to his same annoying standard and, not taking the example of some sports-writers, made no allowances for the midget substitutes and one-armed batters that management sent up to the plate. The brothers also hit back at Variety , which reported the same day as the Kronenberger story that the Shuberts were suing it for three hundred thousand dollars because of the paper’s mean reviews. None of this chastened Kronenberger, though; in 1944 he upped his average among theater critics from 84 percent to 91 percent for flop predictions seconded by the public. He was the deadliest of his colleagues for confirmed kills.

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