Musicals Impresario Harold Fielding Dies, Aged 86Date: 1 October 2003
Legendary post-war impresario Harold Fielding has passed away. After suffering a series of strokes in 1998, Fielding had been living in a private nursing home in Kingston-upon-Thames. He died there on Saturday, 27 September 2003, aged 86.
The Cameron Mackintosh of his day, Fielding produced some of the foremost musical comedies of the 1960s and 1970s. He started out as a producer of concerts and summer variety shows before having his first big theatrical hit in 1958 with Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella at the London Coliseum.
Amongst his biggest subsequent hits were The Music Man, Half a Sixpence, Sweet Charity, The Great Waltz, Show Boat, Barnum, Charlie Girl and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
He was also responsible for importing several big-name American stars to London - including a young Elaine Stritch and Hollywood's Ginger Rogers and Van Johnson - as well as introducing Broadway audiences to British talent such as Tommy Steele.
An obituary published today in the Daily Telegraph described Fielding as an "impresario of flair and imagination.... What set him apart from other producers was his faith in his own theatrical taste." Noel Coward, whose Sail Away Fielding produced, wasn't so sure but did admire him for other reasons. "Although I cannot take my hat off to him morally, I can certainly drop a grateful curtsey to his guts and determination," Coward recorded.
Fielding was born in Woking in Surrey in 1917 and was a child prodigy violinist who toured the country before giving up performing after a bout of stage fright.
- by Terri Paddock