Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Ron Simons dies at 63

FILE - Director Ron Simons poses for a portrait during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23, 2011 in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Victoria Will, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Ron Simons, an actor who turned into a formidable screen and stage producer, winning four Tony Awards and having several films selected at the Sundance Film Festival, has died. He was 63.

SimonSays Entertainment, his New York-based production company said Simons died Wednesday but gave no cause or other details.

“It is with heavy hearts that we share the unexpected passing of our beloved, blessed, and highly favored friend, Ronald Keith Simons,” the production company wrote in a statement on Facebook.

Simons won Tonys for producing “Porgy and Bess,” with Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” starring Jefferson Mays, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” with Sigourney Weaver, and “Jitney,” with John Douglas Thompson.

He also co-produced “Hughie,” with Forest Whitaker, “The Gin Game,” starring Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones, “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations,” an all-Black production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” the revival of "for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf" and the original work “Thoughts of a Colored Man.”

In 2022, after the first full season since the death of George Floyd reignited a conversation about race and representation in America, Simons was pleased to see Broadway offer one of its most diverse Tony slates yet.

“I can guarantee you I have not seen this many people of color represented across all categories of the Tony Awards,” he told The Associated Press. “I was so uplifted and impressed by that."

On the film side, Simons produced "Night Catches Us," with Kerry Washington, Anthony Mackie and Wendell Pierce, “Gun Hill Road,” with Esai Morales and Judy Reyes, “Blue Caprice,” starring Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond, and “Mother of George,” with Danai Gurira.

Simons, who earned a bachelor's degree from Columbia College, an MBA from Columbia Business School and an MFA from the University of Washington, was a product manager at Microsoft when he decided to change his life and pursue a career in entertainment.

He began as an actor, appearing in regional theaters including Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival and the Classical Theatre of Harlem.

He was in the films “27 Dresses” and “Mystery Team,” as well as on the small screen in “The Resident,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “Law & Order: SVU.”


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