Philip J. Smith, chairman emeritus of the Shubert Organization, passed away Friday at the age of 89.
Smith died from complications due to COVID-19, his daughters Linda Phillips and Jennifer Stein confirmed. The former chairman and co-chief executive of the Shubert Organization spent 63 years at the company, rising from box office treasurer to leading the organization. Along the way, helped introduce the use of credit cards to purchase Broadway show tickets and participated in the creation of Telecharge.
Smith also served as director and chairman of the Shubert Foundation, the organization’s private foundation dedicated to funding not-for-profit theatre and dance companies.
“We have lost a giant of the American Theatre and a most beloved member of our Shubert Organization family. Over his 63-year career, Phil Smith influenced every aspect of the professional theatre and earned the respect and admiration of everyone from the stage doormen to the greatest performers and creative talents of our time. He was devoted to his work, his friends, his colleagues and above all, his family. On behalf of the Board of Directors, the Officers and Staff of The Shubert Organization, I extend our sincere condolences to his daughters, Linda and Jennifer, and the extended Smith family,” Robert E. Wankel, chairman and CEO of the Shubert Organization, said in the press release.
Smith joined the Shubert Organization in 1957 as box office treasurer at the Imperial Theatre. He worked in every department of the Shubert Organization before being named general manager of all Shubert Theatre in 1964.
He became vice president of the organization in 1969 and began working with then president Bernard B. Jacobs and chairman Gerald Schoenfeld. After Jacobs’ death, Smith served as president alongside Schoenfeld for 12 years.
Smith was promoted to chairman and co-chief executive in 2008, working alongside Wankel. In addition to his work to digitize the Broadway ticket-buying experience, Smith helped establish the Times Square TKTS booth.
In 2011, he received a special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award for his contributions to the theatre industry.
Smith retired from his post as co-chairman at the Shubert Organization on June. 30.
He is survived by his daughters Linda (Martin) Phillips and Jennifer (John) Stein, as well as five grandchildren.