He’s been called “the dean of press agentry in South Florida.”
He “is theater in South Florida,” someone in the know once said of him.
“He” is Charlie Cinnamon, and if there’s anyone more plugged into the South Florida arts scene than Cinnamon, we have yet to meet that person.
More than 50 years ago, the publicist’s brainstorm to promote a production of Irma La Douce at the Coconut Grove Playhouse led to his creation of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. Whenever theater’s kings (well, Yul Brynner playing one on the Jackie Gleason Theater stage in 1976) and queens (Elizabeth Taylor, Eartha Kitt and Joan Collins all took his calls) played South Florida, Cinnamon has been the guy getting the word out.
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His skills at artistic promotion and making stars feel comfortable could be studied as college curriculum. (No less formidable a presence than Tallulah Bankhead, who once hoisted her skirt backstage at the Coconut Grove Playhouse to show Cinnamon her colostomy bag when she was in town performing Glad Tidings.)
As press representative for Broadway Across America, Cinnamon is still at it, most recently with the hit reunion of Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw at the Broward Center in Love Letters.
For Cinnamon, a life in the theater started after he served in World War II and was attending New York University on the GI Bill. Though he had grown up in the Bronx, it wasn’t until then that he felt the pull of Broadway.
“You never got to Broadway when you lived in the Bronx but when I started to go to school…,” Cinnamon reminisces. A subway trip from the Bronx to Manhattan led to his arts awakening.
“The lights of Broadway and the magic inside is what hooked me,” he said. “Oddly enough, the first show I recall best was not a musical but Arthur Laurents’ Home of the Brave. That story of a guy coming back from the war really moved me. That was really something that kicked me in the kishkes. The next big thing was Oklahoma!, and I was ready for my close-up.”
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