Biographical / Historical
Shirley Rich, casting director in theater, television and film, was born in Chicago on December 10, 1922. Her parents, Meyer and Hattie Rich, were immigrants from Eastern Europe. Rich grew up in Ottumwa, Iowa and graduated from the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) in 1944 with a bachelor of fine arts degree. In 1946 she received a masters degree in theater from Smith College, where she studied under Hallie Flanagan Davis. Rich then moved to New York City. In 1946 she worked for the American National Theater and Academy (ANTA) having received a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship the first year. During her second year with ANTA Rich worked for their experimental theater which included such productions as Galileo with Charles Laughton and Skipper Next To God with John Garfield. From 1948 to 1951, she worked for Rodgers and Hammerstein as assistant casting director, taking time out in 1950 to do public relations and press work for the Ballet Theater during its State Department tour of Europe. While with Rodgers and Hammerstein, Rich worked on South Pacific and The King and I, among other productions. From 1951 to 1954, she worked as the eastern talent scout for the Talent Department of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures. In 1952, Rich married Lewis M. Krohn, an investment banker. They had two children, Steven and Lisa. Rich spent the next several years raising her children in Scarsdale, New York. In 1963, Rich resumed her career, working as casting director for Hal Prince. During the following six years, Rich cast such productions as Fiddler On The Roof, Cabaret, and Zorba. In 1969, she founded Shirley Rich Casting and began work as a free-lance casting director. In this capacity, she worked on films such as Taps, Kramer vs. Kramer, Serpico, Three Days of The Condor, Rachel, Rachel and Saturday Night Fever, and television programs including the American Playhouse production of Andre's Mother and the soap opera Ryan's Hope, winner of many Emmy Awards. Her theater productions include Ballroom and Crimes of the Heart. Rich has received numerous awards including: in 1983 the Smith College Medal, awarded to distinguished alumnae who best exemplify the true purpose of a liberal arts education; in 1991 the Hoyt Bower Award from the Casting Society of America for Outstanding Contribution to the Casting Profession; and in 1994 the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Iowa. In addition, as part of the Sesquicentennial of Ottumwa, Iowa, the Ottumwa Arts Council honored her as one of four creative artists from Ottumwa in March 1994.