In Memoriam: LPTW Member Betty Corwin

The League of Professional Theatre Women remembers honored members who have recently passed away.

Betty Corwin

September, 2019

From LPTW Member & Producer of the Oral History Project, Ludovica Villar-Hauser

The incomparable Betty Corwin passed away after a short illness. She was 98-years-old and a strong, vital, inspiring presence among us to the very end. Betty will be missed for many reasons, not least her great courage, imagination, wit and intelligence.

Betty Corwin conceived, founded and produced the LPTW Oral History Project, a series of three annual interviews –– informative, illuminating and intimate –– with truly great theatre women for 26 years until she retired at 97.  Betty was co-producer of the CUNY’s Women in Theatre television series, and founded the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT) at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.  TOFT has the world’s preeminent collection of videotaped live theatre performances.

Berry Corwin received a Tony Award for founding TOFT, was a recipient of an Outer Critics Special Award, a Broadway Theatre Institute Lifetime Achievement Award, a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of New York, an Obie Award, the Westport, Connecticut Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement, and awards from the Drama Desk, Women in Communications and The Villager.

Betty Corwin was a juror for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee. Articles by Betty were published in Performing Arts Resources, Variety and League Line.

Betty taught us all so much.  The importance of preserving our legacy –– our history and our stories.  We learned from Betty the gift of foresight, which Betty had in abundance.  League member Paul Ewin put it best:  “Betty gave us consciousness,” an awareness of how important the preservation of theatre history is for the theatre artist and the art of theatre.

Betty’s service to women in theatre and to our industry was inestimable — it was also unique.  Because of Betty’s foresight, dedication and love of theatre over 5,000 productions are now available for study at Lincoln Center’s Theatre on Film and Tape Archive, and more than 100 interviews with women theatre artists have been preserved through the Oral History Project and CUNY’s Women in Theater series.

Betty and I worked together for seven years on the Oral History Project, co-produced by the League and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.  It was my great honor to present Betty with the League’s Special Lifetime Achievement Award on November 8, 2017 at the Awards Luncheon produced by Pat Addiss.  In closing, I said to Betty:

With the League’s Special Lifetime Achievement Award, we not only recognize all you are — all you have given — all you have done, but also that we love you.

We still do, Betty, and always will.   Thank you.  Brava.  Well done!