According to Playbill, Martin Charnin, the creator, lyricist, and director of the beloved musical Annie, has died at the age of 84 after being hospitalized for a minor heart attack last week. His daughter Sasha Charnin Morrison posted the news of his death on social media Sunday. While Charnin would go on to write musicals, he began his career performing in them, co-starring as the Jets member Big Deal in the original 1957 Broadway production of West Side Story as well as appearing in the 1959 revue The Girls Against the Boys with Dick Van Dyke.
Before penning Annie, Charnin won an Emmy for directing ’S Wonderful, ’S Marvelous, ’S Gershwin in 1972, and snagged noms for directing George M! and Get Happy in 1971 and 1973, respectively. After writing lyrics for Broadway-bound stage shows like 1963’s Hot Spot and Two by Two in 1970, Charnin conceived and directed the 1973 Broadway revue Nash at Nine, in addition to 1975’s The National Lampoon Show and a host of television specials.
Partnering with the late Thomas Meehan and composer Charles Strouse, Charnin created, wrote lyrics for, and directed Annie after optioning the classic comic strip Little Orphan Annie. The show premiered on Broadway in 1977 and won seven of its 11 Tony nominations, including Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Original Score. The original production ran for 2,377 shows. Charnin would go on to direct numerous products of Annie in the U.S. and abroad, including the show’s own Broadway revival in 1997. He also won yet again at the 1982 Tonys, providing lyrics and direction for the Jackie Robinson musical The First starring David Alan Grier.
He is survived by his wife, children, and grandchildren.