O'Neill Center's George White Honored at Theater Hall of Fame

George C. White,

founder and former executive director of the

Eugene O'Neill Theater Center



called it a “family affair.”

Repeated references to the theater community as “family” and “home” marked the touching love-fest which was the 2012

Theater Hall of Fame Ceremony

in New York Monday night.

White was one of eight inductees who received this year’s honors year in front of a crowd that included composer

Stephen Schwartz,


Rosemary Harris, Frances Sternhagan


Fritz Weaver,

White’s family and a contingent from the O’Neill Center, including executive director

Preston Whiteway


National Playwrights Conference

artistic director

Wendy Goldberg.

Estelle Parsons

presided and presenters were

Meryl Streep, Liza Minnelli, Jane Alexander, Phylicia Rashad, Brian Murray,
Pulitzer Prize-winning


Donald Margulies


Brian Dennehy

, who gave White his medal. Dennehy was both sincere and very funny in his comments about White’s varied and long career, his love of sailing and his long marriage to Betsy White. Of White’s establishing so many  theater institutions over his half century of accomplishment, Dennehy remarked, “I’m surprised


didn’t create the Theater Hall of Fame.”

Margulies, who lives in

New Haven

, spoke of director

Daniel Sullivan'

s deft hand at staging plays; Rashad talked of producer-director

Woodie King Jr.

’s influence to generations of artists; Alexander referred to

Elliot Martin

as being “the last of the gentlemen producers;” Murray was droll in both presenting and accepting for

Tyne Daly

(who was in London in “Master Class”); the widow of

Paul Sills

recounted the beginnings of his “Story Theater” and “

Second City

” in Chicago; and Minnelli ended her intro to Vereen with a few notes of a song. (Vereen’s acceptance was the most emotional: “Hey, Mom, I’m up on the wall!” said a clearly thrilled Vereen, referring to the scores of legendary names engraved in the walls around him.)

The evening ended with Streep speaking about

Ann Roth

’s epic career as a costumer and how she helped Streep and others discover the layers of their characters far beyond the fabric that enveloped them.

She also

gave the O'Neill Center --where she worked the summer after she graduated fro the

Yale School of Drama in 1976 -- a lift-out quote from the theater gods: “I learned more in six weeks at The O’Neill that I got from three years at Yale.”