Gary Beach, a Broadway and TV veteran whose portrayal of a comically deranged theater director in Mel Brooks’s smash hit “The Producers” won him a Tony Award in 2001, died July 17 at his home in Palm Springs, Calif. He was 70.

His agent, Steven Unger, confirmed the death but did not provide a cause.

Mr. Beach’s other Broadway roles included Lumiere in “Beauty and the Beast” (1994) and Albin in the 2004 revival of “La Cage aux Folles,” both of which earned him Tony nominations.

“The Producers” opened in 2001 and starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick as schemers trying to bilk theater investors by staging a flop, only to have their monstrously tasteless show — a musical about the Third Reich — succeed beyond their wildest dreams.


Mr. Beach played a self-absorbed and beyond-flamboyant director, De Bris, who gets to go on as Adolf Hitler and leads the cast in “Springtime for Hitler,” the show’s most famous number. He reprised the role in the 2005 film.


Mr. Beach’s favorite moment in the show was a section of lyrics added to the “Springtime for Hitler” number during the pre-Broadway run in Chicago.

“It’s when Hitler does the tap challenge with the Allies and ends up rolling the wheelchair-bound Franklin Roosevelt off the stage,” Mr. Beach explained. “Brooks wrote, ‘It ain’t no mystery / If it’s politics or history / The thing you’ve got to know is / Everything is showbiz.’ ”


Mr. Beach then told Brooks, “You know what you’ve done? You’ve made ‘The Producers’ the toughest satire on Broadway.”

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Mr. Beach was born in Alexandria, Va., on Oct. 10, 1947. At 11, he became hooked on musical theater after seeing a production of Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” at Washington’s National Theatre.

He attended the North Carolina School of the Arts before making his Broadway debut as Edward Rutledge in the musical “1776” as a replacement player in the original 1969-1972 run. He later did more than 1,000 performances in New York and on the road in three musicals: “Annie,” “Les Miserables” and “Beauty and the Beast.”


After nearly 20 years in New York, Mr. Beach moved to Los Angeles. “I fell in love with the idea of having a car like an adult,” he said. There, he acted in shows such as “The John Larroquette Show,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Saved by the Bell” and “Will & Grace.”

— Associated Press