One of his most famous promoted the poorly-reviewed 1961 musical Subways Are For Sleeping. Merrick found seven New Yorkers who had the same names as the city's seven leading theater critics: Howard Taubman, Walter Kerr, John Chapman, John McClain, Richard Watts, Jr., Norman Nadel, and Robert Coleman. Merrick invited the seven namesakes to the musical and secured their permission to use their names and pictures in an advertisement alongside quotes such as "One of the few great musical comedies of the last thirty years" and "A fabulous musical. I love it." Merrick then prepared a newspaper ad featuring the namesakes' rave reviews under the heading 7 Out of 7 Are Ecstatically Unanimous About Subways Are For Sleeping.
Only one newspaper, the New York Herald Tribune, published the ad, and only in one edition; however, the publicity that the ad garnered helped the musical remain open for 205 performances (almost six months). Merrick later revealed that he had conceived the ad several years previously, but had not been able to execute it until Brooks Atkinson retired as the New York Times theater critic in 1960 since he could not find anyone with the same name. On the morning of August 25, 1980, Gower Champion died of a rare blood cancer. Merrick kept his death a secret so he could announce it himself at the opening-night curtain call for 42nd Street, which he had produced and Champion had directed. Merrick suffered a stroke in 1983, which confined him to a wheelchair. He established the David Merrick Arts Foundation in 1998 to support the development of American musicals. Merrick was married six times, to Lenore Beck, Jeanne Gibson, Etan Aronson (twice), Karen Prunczik, and Natalie Lloyd.
He was married to Lloyd at the time of his death in London; all of his previous marriages had ended in divorce. He had two daughters according to Peter Filichia, writing in the Newark Star-Ledger on April 27, 2000. In 2001 Merrick was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Read more on Last.fm.
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