“We have lost a giant of the American Theatre and a most beloved member of our Shubert Organization family,” Robert E. Wankel, who succeeded Smith as the chairman and CEO. “
Philip J. Smith, was one of the most influential and powerful forces in American theater. He was the chairman and co CEO of the Shubert organization for 63-years. Smith had retired from his position last June.
Smith joined the Shubert’s in 1957 as the box office treasurer at the Imperial Theatre. He was named general manager of all Shubert theatres in 1964. In 1969, he was promoted to Shubert vice president and introduced credit cards as a method of purchasing Broadway tickets. He helped the industry’s transition to computerization. He helped create Telecharge, and changed the way tickets were purchased. Smith was also instrumental in establishing TKTS discount ticket booth in Times Square.
Smith spent 15 years as the executive vice president, working closely with President of the company Bernard B. Jacobs and Chairman Gerald Schoenfeld. Following Jacob’s death in 1996, Smith was named president. He served alongside Schoenfeld for 12 years. After Schoenfeld’s death in 2008, Smith became chairman and co-CEO and Wankel, was named president and co-CEO.
Smith served on the executive committee of the board of governors for the Broadway League and vice chairman of the board of the Actors Fund. He brought the Shubert Pavilion, a four-story addition to the Actors Fund Home in Englewood, NJ to fruition and served on the board of trustees of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
In 2011, Smith was honored with a special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the theatre industry. In 2015, he was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame and honored as a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.
Smith was married to Phyllis Campbell, a professional dancer who was working at the Palace as an usher. They remained married until her death in 1994. In 1999, he married Tricia Walsh, with the marriage ending in divorce in 2008.
Smith is survived by daughters Linda Phillips and Jennifer Stein and grandchildren Grant Phillips, James Phillips, Kate Stein, Michael Stein and Peter Stein.
The Shubert Foundation, is the nation’s largest private foundation dedicated to unrestricted funding of not-for-profit theatre and dance companies.
Smith died January 15, 2021 from complications of Covid-19. He was 89.