Remembering a Gallery Players Legend
Marvin H. Bonowitz
November 23, 1927 – August 20, 2018
Seventy years ago, a small dedicated group of theater lovers came together to create Gallery Players – the only theater group in Columbus open and welcome to all. One of the fundamental voices driving this mission was Marvin Bonowitz.
Actively challenging social conventions of the 1950s and 1960s, Marvin fortified the inclusive values of Gallery Players that make it an important, accessible theatrical voice in the Columbus community today.
Marvin was a man of initiative, seeing past the social boundaries. He wanted an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to come together and perform on stage. As a Board member of Gallery Players in 1957, Marvin embraced the progressive nature of theater when he orchestrated the production of Finian’s Rainbow, which boldly called for a racially mixed cast. As he often did, Marvin performed in the production playing the role of Og, the Leprechaun . He was noted for his “pixie type characterizations” and as one of Gallery Players most talented actors. Finian’s Rainbow successfully performed four shows to sold-out crowds and rave reviews.
Marvin was a gifted pianist, accompanying Gallery Players productions well into his eighties. His love of theater and music started at an early age when he discovered a natural gift at the piano. He appeared in his first theatrical production at age seven in his Sunday School play. Over his lifetime, he appeared in more than 40 plays and musicals including walk-on roles in six operas at the Metropolitan and New York City Opera Company.
Marvin and his work have meant a great deal to the people he knew personally and those that appreciate his influence and contributions. He was honored as a Legend of Gallery Players in 2016, recognized and celebrated for his extraordinary accomplishments. Marvin’s ideals will live on as part of Gallery Players’ values.
Donations and dedications in memory of Marvin’s contributions to Gallery Players can be made here.
Oral History and Photos Courtesy of The Columbus Jewish Historical Society.