August 22, 1924 - January 14, 2009
Hampton Union, Tuesday, February 10, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Former Hampton Playhouse owner dies;
Alfred Christie brought 'legendary' shows to area.
HAMPTON -- Alfred Christie, long-time owner/producer of the Hampton Playhouse, died of cancer Wednesday, Jan. 14, at home in Manhattan. Born Alfred Cohen in Bayonne, N.J., on Aug. 22, 1924, his varied life also included heroic duty in World War II and over 40 years as a teacher.
His military service as a heavy mortar gunner resulted in being awarded the Purple Heart among other honors. As part of the 38th Infantry, 2nd Division, his participation commenced in the invasion of Normandy and concluded in the Battle of the Bulge in which he was gravely injured.
This led to a level of celebrity, in particular for an episode at the Stage Door Canteen in which he discarded his crutches to dance with a girl and, embarrassed to retrieve them, he left unaided. The mystery was covered by the local press under the headline "Miracle Boy Walks Again."
Christie attended New York University on the G.I. Bill, and collected his Masters in Education from Columbia University. Having functioned as the theatre guru Harold Clurman's assistant, he ventured into two careers in 1950.
Not only did he teach English and speech in the New York City Public School system, but he also opened with partner John Vari the Hampton Playhouse.
In its 50 years it was designated "America's Ideal Summer Theatre" by Good Housekeeping Magazine and likewise cited as the quintessential summer-stock company by Good Morning America. Christie directed a lion's share of the innumerable productions over that span of time.
All of those summer performances were legendary, and some of the actors went on to become legends. A bikini-clad Rue McClanahan ("The Golden Girls") sang "Come Take a Bite of My Apple" as she starred in "Burlesque." Katherine Helmond ("Who's the Boss?") starred in "Any Wednesday."
The playhouse closed its doors in January 2001. The last production performed there was "South Pacific" in the summer of 1999.
A memorial service/celebration of his life will be held at 3:30 p.m., Feb. 28, at Central Presbyterian Church, 593 Park Avenue (corner of 64th Street in NY).
In lieu of flowers, contributions via woundedwarriorproject.org are encouraged.