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Kissel, Howard


Howard William Kissel was born on October 29, 1942 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Leo Kissel, an editor at The Milwaukee Sentinel, and his wife Ruth. He graduated with a Master’s of Science Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University in 1966. He worked as a reporter and theater and film critic for a number of publications, most notably the New York Daily News, Women’s Wear Daily, and W. He died on February 24, 2012 in New York, NY.

After graduating from Shorewood High School in 1960, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University in 1964. At Columbia, Kissel was an Associate Editor for “The Jester,” a humor magazine, and wrote two produced musicals. In 1965 he enrolled in Medill’s Graduate program, and in December 1966 graduated with a Master’s Degree in Journalism.

By 1967 Kissel was living in New York, where he got his first brief stint as a reporter for the Daily News Record. He soon became an arts editor for Women’s Wear Daily and W, where the topics he covered included fashion, film, theatre and television. On May 5, 1974, he married Christine Mary Buck to whom he was married until her death on June 23, 2006.

Kissel was best known for his position as chief theater critic for the Daily News, which he held for nearly 20 years (1986-1997, 2001-2008). In the 1980s, he served on the boards of both the New York Drama Critics’ Circle and New York Film Critics’ Circle. In 2008, he continued as a contributor to The Daily News' online blog known as "The Cultural Tourist." After he lost that forum in 2010, he began blogging for the Huffington Post, which he continued until his death.

In addition to his critical writings, Kissel wrote dramatic works for much of his life. Two of his plays, The Origin of Species and Strawberries and Cream, received small productions during the late 1970s.

In 1980 Kissel was recognizable enough to earn a small role in a Woody Allen film, Stardust Memories, playing Allen’s manager. In the last two decades of his life, he began writing books, and as an author was best known for "The Abominable Showman," an unauthorized biography of the Broadway producer David Merrick.

Kissel died on February 24, 2012. He is survived by his younger sisters Anne Kissel Elliot, of Palm Beach, FL, and Judy Kissel, of Coral Springs, FL.
Author: David Marrero

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Howard Kissel (1942-2012) Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 31/6/119
Abstract Howard William Kissel (1942-2012), a theatre critic and writer from Wisconsin, wrote for Women’s Wear Daily and a number of other publications. In 1986, he was appointed chief theatre critic for The New York Daily News, a position which he held for nearly 20 years.  He also published over a half-dozen books, and wrote plays and musicals for most of his life. Materials in this collection include handwritten notes, drafts of...