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Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Ron Simons dies aged 63

SimonSays Entertainment, his New York-based production company, said Simons died on Wednesday.

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Actor and producer Ron Simons pictured in a red jumper during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival

Ron Simons, the actor who turned into a formidable screen and stage producer winning four Tony Awards, has died aged 63.

SimonSays Entertainment, his New York-based production company, said Simons died on Wednesday but gave no cause or other details.

“It is with heavy hearts that we share the unexpected passing of our beloved, blessed, and highly favoured friend, Ronald Keith Simons,” the production company wrote in a statement on Facebook.

Simons won Tonys for producing Porgy and Bess, with Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald, A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder, starring Jefferson Mays, Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike, with Sigourney Weaver, and Jitney, with John Douglas Thompson.

He also co-produced Hughie, with Forest Whitaker, The Gin Game, starring Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life And Times Of The Temptations, an all-black production of A Streetcar Named Desire, the revival of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf, and the original work Thoughts Of A Colored Man.

In 2022, after the first full season since the death of George Floyd reignited a conversation about race and representation in America, Simons was pleased to see Broadway offer one of its most diverse Tony slates yet.

“I can guarantee you I have not seen this many people of colour represented across all categories of the Tony Awards,” he told The Associated Press. “I was so uplifted and impressed by that.”

In film, Simons produced Night Catches Us, with Kerry Washington, Anthony Mackie and Wendell Pierce, Gun Hill Road, with Esai Morales and Judy Reyes, Blue Caprice, starring Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond, and Mother Of George, with Danai Gurira.

Simons, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College, an MBA from Columbia Business School and an MFA from the University of Washington, was a product manager at Microsoft when he decided to change his life and pursue a career in entertainment.

He began as an actor, appearing in regional theatres including Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival and the Classical Theatre of Harlem.

He was in the films 27 Dresses and Mystery Team, as well as on the small screen in The Resident, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: SVU.

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