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Wynn Handman Who Founded American Place Theatre Dies at 97 of Pneumonia Related to COVID-19

Olowokandi Fiyin
Apr 16, 2020
06:30 A.M.

American Place Theatre Co-founder and teacher of future stars, Wynn Handman, has died from causes related to COVID-19.

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Wynn Handman, who co-founded the American Place Theatre (APT), the Off-Broadway non-profit company that birthed several Hollywood heavyweights, has died of complications related to the novel coronavirus.

Wynn Handman attends the 2013 Children's Arts Award Benefit at Cipriani Wall Street on March 4, 2013 | Photo: Getty Images

Wynn Handman attends the 2013 Children's Arts Award Benefit at Cipriani Wall Street on March 4, 2013 | Photo: Getty Images

According to Deadline, the teacher of future stars passed on in his New York home on Saturday, April 11 at age 97.

While speaking on the star teacher in the 2019 documentary “It Takes a Lunatic,” actress Marianne Leone Cooper recalled that Wynn spent six months teaching her the art of stillness.

Wynn Handman attends the "It Takes A Lunatic" world premiere during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on May 03, 2019 | Photo: Getty Images

Wynn Handman attends the "It Takes A Lunatic" world premiere during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on May 03, 2019 | Photo: Getty Images

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During his long career, Wynn co-founded APT in 1963 with Michael Tolan and Sidney Lanier, and within a short period, the theater became a vital player in the New York theater scene.

However, it wasn’t until 1964 that the theater hosted its first full production, which was the Obie-winning, “The Old Glory.” APT soon became known for launching the careers of writers such as Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, and Joyce Carol Oates.

The theater’s also used its stage to present many notable writer-performers like Bill Irwin, John Leguizamo, Eric Bogosian, and Aasif Mandvi, at the start of their careers.

Wynn Handman attends as Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Honors The 75th Anniversary Of D-Day at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on June 06, 2019 | Photo: Getty Images

Wynn Handman attends as Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Honors The 75th Anniversary Of D-Day at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on June 06, 2019 | Photo: Getty Images

Actors weren’t left out of Wynn’s influence either as he taught the likes of Alec Baldwin, Kathleen Chalfant, Richard Gere, Michael Douglas, Christopher Walken, Raul Julia, Frank Langella, Denzel Washington, and Joanne Woodward.

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APT was located on W. 46th Street until 2002 when the venue was taken over by the Roundabout Theatre Company and renamed the Laura Pels Theatre.

That takeover, however, didn’t stop Wynn, who continued teaching until he became ill, according to a NY Post report.

Wynn Handman attends the Literature to Life 2011 gala at The Times Center on May 23, 2011 | Photo: Getty Images

Wynn Handman attends the Literature to Life 2011 gala at The Times Center on May 23, 2011 | Photo: Getty Images

While speaking on the star teacher in the 2019 documentary “It Takes a Lunatic,” actress Marianne Leone Cooper recalled that Wynn spent six months teaching her the art of stillness.

NY Times added that James Caan, who also paid tribute to Wynn in the documentary, remembered how seriously the late 97-year-old took his craft.

Wynn Handman attends the Literature to Life 2011 gala at The Times Center on May 23, 2011 | Photo: Getty Images

Wynn Handman attends the Literature to Life 2011 gala at The Times Center on May 23, 2011 | Photo: Getty Images

According to CBS New York, the “It Takes A Lunatic” documentary featured footage that covered years of Wynn’s career and also included interviews with Richard Gere, Michael Douglas, the late Sam Shepard and a host of others.

Wynn wasn’t left out of the

as he told many great stories, including the one about a conversation he had with a young Michael.

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