Steve Silver; Wrote, Produced ‘Beach Blanket Babylon’ Revue

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Steve Silver, who created the zany and popular “Beach Blanket Babylon” musical revue, has died of the complications of AIDS.

He was 51.

Silver died Monday at his home, said Charles Zukow, the show’s publicist.

“Beach Blanket Babylon,” written, produced and directed by Silver and based very loosely on a plot involving Snow White and her search for true love, has attracted an audience of more than 4 million since it opened in 1974.


The outrageous show features enormous hats and fun-loving parodies of current events.

“Beach Blanket Babylon” bills itself as America’s longest-running musical revue and Silver was often quoted as saying it even outdid the famed Ziegfeld Follies in longevity.

Silver started the show modestly with his outfit called Rent-a-Freak, which provided such entertainers as gorillas on roller skates for private parties. One night in San Francisco’s North Beach, Silver and 10 of his characters saw a guitarist earning donations on a street corner and decided to perform right there. They made $25 that first night and $85 the next.

Since then, the show has popped up everywhere from Russian television to the 1989 Academy Awards. There was a successful run in Las Vegas, and even an invitation to perform at Ronald Reagan’s White House.


Silver was also known as a philanthropist. Among other projects, he was responsible for the construction of the main portal of the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park. Other AIDS organizations that benefited from his largess included Project Open Hand and the AIDS Emergency Fund Dinner.

Memorial services will be held at Grace Cathedral Thursday.

Survivors include Silver’s wife, Jo Schuman, and his brother, Roger Silver.