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AP Drama Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Martin Richards, the Tony Award-winning producer behind such Broadway hits as "On the Twentieth Century," "Sweeney Todd," and "The Will Rogers Follies," as well as an Academy Award-winning producer of the film "Chicago," has died after battling cancer, his publicist said Tuesday. He was 80.

Publicist Judy Jacksina said Richards died Monday. The marquees of Broadway theatres will be dimmed in his memory Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Richards' shows won 36 Tonys during his five decades producing plays and musicals.

"The popularity of his shows has brought many generations to Broadway. He was an admirer of talent, and we were an admirer of his," Charlotte St. Martin, the executive director of The Broadway League, said in a statement.

His other Broadway productions include "Crimes of the Heart," the original and 2004 revival of "La Cage Aux Folles," "The Norman Conquests," "Grand Hotel" and "The Life."

In addition to his stage work, Richards was the producer of the original "Chicago" on Broadway and went on to win an Academy Award for producing the film version in 2003. His other films include "The Shining," "The Boys From Brazil," and "Fort Apache, The Bronx."

Richards, along with his late wife, Mary Lea Johnson Richards, was instrumental in founding Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids and Meals on Wheels. Richards also created the New York Center for Children to care for abused children and their families.

In a statement, actress Chita Rivera, whose 2005 Broadway show "Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life" was co-produced by Richards, said she had lost a great friend.

"What a privilege to have shared a part of his flamboyant history. Through Marty and his courageous eye and infallible taste, I have inherited gifts I had never imagined would come my way," Rivera said.

Richards most recently produced the new musical "Big Maybelle: Soul of the Blues" starring Lillias White at The Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, N.Y., this summer.

Richards is survived by his brother Bruce Klein; a niece, Lisa Kirschner; and a nephew, Sean Klein.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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