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Quintero, José | University of Houston Libraries

Name: Quintero, José


Historical Note:

Jose Quintero, was born October 15, 1924 in Panama City, Panama, as one of four children to Carlos Rivera and Consuelo Palmerola. He graduated from LaSalle Catholic High School in 1943, and was known for his ability to decorate altars and fervent moviegoing. Quintero briefly enrolled at the Los Angeles City College with the intention of a career in medicine, but soon thereafter returned to Panama City, where he worked as a ticket attendant for Panamanian Airways, an English Teacher at the Jesuit School and a salesman for the Chesterfield Cigarette Company. He returned to the United States to enroll at the University of California, where he graduated with in 1948. He then enrolled in the Goodman Theater Dramatic School in Chicago, moving Manhattan a year later.

With Ted Mann, he founded the Loft Players in Woodstock, N.Y in 1950. In 1951, they began the Circle in the Square Theater at 5 Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village ‘The Circle' became a revival showcase for works by Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill, directed by Quintero. Williams' "Summer and Smoke" was the Circle's first off-Broadway smash in 1952. Along with launching the careers of Quintero and the production's star, Geraldine Page, it signaled the emergence of the Off-Broadway movement. ''Quintero's success ignited footlights all over the Village,'' The New York Times reported. ''The American theater expanded some 40 blocks."

Quintero directed  his first  Broadway production in 1953 , directing Judith Anderson in Jane Bowles' ''In the Summer House.'' In 1956 he received a Tony Award for best director for the Broadway production of "Long Day's Journey Into Night".

In the 1970's Quintero's career and personal life floundered: he experienced bouts of depression and alcoholism. He credited his relationship with Nicholas Tsacrios, his longtime partner, as motivation to quit drinking, and reignite his career. It was during this period that he lead a group of actors in launching a new troupe, the Resurrection Company. Their efforts were recognized when Quintero was awarded a second Tony in 1973 for the production of "A Moon for the Misbegotten".

Quintero worked with and directed such stars as George C. Scott, Colleen Dewhurst, Ingrid Bergman, Jason Robards, Liv Ullmann, Pat Hingle, Kirstie Alley, Betty Miller, Ralph Williams and Callista Flockhart. During his 50-year career, Quintero directed many contemporary masterworks, and maintained collaborations as well as close friendships with playwrights Tennessee Williams and Thornton Wilder. However, his legacy is defined by his direction of Eugene O'Neill's works.

It was Quintero's revivals of O'Neill's work which cemented their place in the American theatrical canon. At the time of O'Neill's death in 1953, his work had fallen out of fashion with directors and critics, and O'Neill's estate had become reluctant to grant performance rights. In order to produce "The Iceman Cometh" in 1956, Quintero appealed directly to Carlotta O'Neill, the playwright's widow. She gave Quintero her approval, and the two cultivated an intense friendship. Quintero's productions of "The Iceman Cometh", "Long Day's Journey Into Night", "A Touch of the Poet" and "A Moon for the Misbegotten" are regarded as definitive.

In 1987 Quintero was diagnosed with throat cancer and had to undergo a total laryngectomy, thus losing his voice. After a period of intense physical pain and emotional isolation, Quintero recovered his speech, taking rehabilitative esophageal speech classes and learning to use a hand-held Servox voice-activation device.

Losing his voice led Quintero to begin a career in teaching, starting with a series of theatre workshops in Los Angeles. Soon after, he was invited to teach at the University of Houston by his former student and personal friend, Dr. Sidney Berger, director of the UH School of Theatre. Quintero spent his last years teaching at UH, and served as Wortham Chair for the Performing Arts for ten years. Quintero was extremely popular in the collegiate circle. In addition to UH, he taught at Florida State University and served as guest artist at California State University at Fullerton.

Quintero published an autobiography, "If You Don't Dance They Beat You", in 1974. It was published again in 1988.

As a final commemoration to his distinguished artistic talent, Quintero received The Order of Vasquez Nunez de Balboa, a lifetime achievement honor, from his native Panama.

It was a recurrence of cancer that brought Jose Quintero's life to an end. He passed away in New York, February 26, 1999 at the age of 74.

Productions Directed:

1949 - Alice in Wonderland; The Glass Menagerie

1951 - Dark of the Moon, Burning Bright; Bonds of Interest

1952 - Yerma, Summer and Smoke

1953 - The Grass Harp; American Gothic; In the Summerhouse

1954 - The Girl on the Flamania; Portrait of a Lady

1955 - The Long Christmas Dinner; The King and the Duke; La Ronde; The Cradle Song

1956 - The Innkeepers; The Iceman Cometh; Long Day's Journey Into Night

1957 - Lost in the Stars; The Square Root of Wonderful

1958 - Children of Darkness; A moon for the Misbegotten; Cavalleria Rusticana, I Pagliacci; The

Quare Fellow

1959 - Our Town; Macbeth; Medea

1960 - The Balcony; Camino Real; The Triumph of St. Joan; Laurette

1961 - The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone; Look, We've Come Through

1962 - Plays for Bleecker Street; Great Day in the Morning; Pullman Car "Haiwatha"

1963 - Desire Under the Elms; Strange Interlude; The Nurses (2 segments)

1964 - Marco Millions; Hughie; Susanna; La Boheme

1965 - Diamond Orchid; Matty & the Moron &Madonna;

A Moon for the Misbegotten; Profiles in Courage: Mary McDowell, R. Taft

1966 - Pousse-Café

1967 - More Stately Mansions

1968 - The Seven Decents of Myrtle

1969 - Episode in the Life of an Author; The Orchestra

1970 - Ghandi

1971 - Johny Johnson; The Big Coca-Cola Swamp in the Sky

1973 - A Moon for the Misbegotten

1974 - Gabrielle: A Musical

1975 - The Skin of Our Teeth; A Moon for the Misbegotten; Knock, Knock

1976 - Hughie

1977 - A Touch of the Poet; Anna Christie

1978 - The Bear; The Human Voice; Same Time, Next Year

1979 - Faith Healer

1980 - Clothes for a Summer Hotel; Welded; Ah! Wilderness

1983 - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; The Time of Your Life

1984 - Rainsnakes

1985 - The Iceman Cometh

1988 - Long Day's Journey Into Night

1990 - Private Lives

1993 - Our Town

1996 - Ile, Long Voyage Home

Sources: "Jose Quintero, Director Who Exalted O'Neill, Dies at 74". New York Times, February 27, 1999.
Note Author: Amelia Abreu




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