Karen Walter Goodwin, Broadway producer, dies at 66

Karen Walter Goodwin, a Broadway producer who also Karen Walter Goodwin, a Broadway producer who also raised money to support productions of such theatrical hits as "Les Miserables," "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Miss Saigon," died June 30 at a medical facility in Annapolis. She was 66. Photo Credit: George P. Kalas Funeral Home

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Karen Walter Goodwin, a Broadway producer who also raised money to support productions of such theatrical hits as "Les Miserables," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Miss Saigon," died June 30 at a medical facility in Annapolis. She was 66.

The cause was colon cancer.

Goodwin, who often described herself as an "accidental producer," followed a circuitous route to the world of show business, starting her professional career as an industrial psychologist with Mutual Benefit Life Insurance.

Later, as a financial executive, she advised the company to invest in art and entertainment opportunities, the first of which was formation of a syndicate to purchase Art & Antiques magazine.

This led to the formation of partnerships to back theatrical productions, the first of which was a Royal Shakespeare Company staging of "All's Well That Ends Well," in 1983. Next was "Les Miserables," which opened in London in 1985 and proved a huge hit.

That began her long association with Cameron Mackintosh, who later produced "Phantom of the Opera" and "Miss Saigon." Other shows Goodwin had involvement with included "The Gospel at Colonus," "Into the Woods," "Sunset Boulevard," "Oliver," "Annie Warbucks," "The Ark" and "Children of Eden."

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As a producer, Goodwin's strength lay in a knack for spotting and evaluating good dramatic material and cultivating a network of "angel investors" to finance it, said a friend, Celia Carroll.

Walter graduated in 1970 from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and then received a master's degree in psychology at Northeastern University. She also studied at the Jung Institute in Zurich.

In 1987, she founded her own production company, Fifth Avenue Productions, in partnership with a college friend, Elizabeth Williams. The New York Times in 1988 described them as "Broadway Angels" for their theatrical backings.

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After a breast cancer diagnosis in 1996, Goodwin scaled back her producing activities, increasingly focusing on writing and teaching. From 2004 to 2008, she was executive director of the Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland, a nonprofit support community for writers and aspiring writers. She also represented several authors as a literary agent.

She was an adjunct faculty member at Catholic University, where she taught a course on "the business of music."

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