Philip J. Smith will retire as chairman and co-chief executive of the Shubert Organization after more than 63 years at the company.
Robert Wankel, the current co-CEO and president of the Shubert Organization, will take over Smith’s duties, as well as his position as chairman of the Shubert Foundation beginning July 1. Smith has worked for the Shubert Organization since 1957, rising from box office treasurer to his current position and shepherding in the use of credit cards to purchase Broadway show tickets as well as the creation of Telecharge.
“The decision to retire feels exactly right at this time in my life,” Smith said in a press release. “The current Covid-19 crisis has pushed the business of Broadway into uncharted territory. It seems an appropriate time for me to step down and turn over my leadership responsibilities to my friend and colleague, Bob Wankel.”
Smith will retire from his positions as of June 30. He will remain chairman emeritus.
After beginning his career in the box office of the Imperial Theatre, Smith was named general manager of all Shubert theaters in 1964 and then promoted to Shubert Vice President in 1969.
During their tenure beginning in the 1970s, Smith worked closely with then president Bernard B. Jacobs and chairman Gerald Schoenfeld. After Jacobs’ death, Smith served as president alongside Schoenfeld.
He and Wankel were promoted to their current positions in 2008, following the death of Schoenfeld. Smith has one of the longest careers at the Shubert Organization.
“I’m proud of the fact that the only person who worked for The Shubert Organization longer than I did was J.J. Shubert who founded the company with his brothers in 1900,” Smith said. “I have loved every minute of my long career.”
In 2011, he received a special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award for his contributions to the theatre industry.
In addition to his work at the Shubert Organization, Smith is a member of the executive committee of the board of governors of the Broadway League and vice chairman of the board of the Actors Fund. He serves on the board of trustees of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.