Martin Charnin: Annie musical writer dies aged 84

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Bennett Raglin

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The original Broadway production of Annie was one of the longest-running on record

Martin Charnin, the writer who adapted the comic strip character Little Orphan Annie for the stage, has died at the age of 84.

Charnin wrote the lyrics for the hit musical’s best-known songs including Tomorrow and It’s The Hard Knock Life.

The news was first reported by his daughter Sasha, who said he had “lived a very full life”.

Born in New York, he began his career as an actor in the original production of West Side Story on Broadway.

The first musical for which he wrote the lyrics was 1963’s Hot Spot starring Judy Holliday.

Charnin also wrote lyrics for Richard Rodgers’ Two by Two (1970), which starred Danny Kaye and ran on Broadway for 10 months.

After an Emmy Award-winning stint writing for US television in the early 1970s, he made his Broadway directing debut in 1973 with the revue Nash at Nine, based on the works of poet Ogden Nash.

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Archive Photos

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The 1982 film was nominated for two Oscars

Charnin then created, co-wrote and directed Annie at the Goodspeed Opera House. It moved to Broadway and ran for 2,327 performances, becoming one of the 25 longest-running musicals in Broadway history. The musical was based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip, created by Harold Gray in 1924.

The plot followed Annie, her dog Sandy and her billionaire benefactor Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks and contained some political commentary targeting unionisation and communism.

Charnin and composer Charles Strouse won a Tony Award in 1977 for best original musical score, and the show was turned into an Oscar-nominated movie in 1982 by director John Huston, starring Albert Finney and Carol Burnett.

A 2015 remake starred Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz and Quvenzhané Wallis.

Sasha Charnin Morrison said her father died following “a minor heart attack on the 3rd July”.

She wrote on Instagram: “His strength was astounding. He’s in a painless place, now. Probably looking for Cole Porter and Ira Gershwin.

“Like he said and as corny as this sounds… the sun’ll come out tomorrow. Rest In Peace, Daddy.”

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