Michael Simon White (16 January 1936 – 7 March 2016) was a British theatrical impresario and film producer. White produced 101 stage productions and 27 films over 50 years.
Michael White was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the son of Doris (Cohen), who became successful in property development and management, and Victor White, who ran a glove making business. His mother was Eastern European Jewish and his father was born in Dublin, Ireland. As White suffered from asthma as a boy, his parents decided he would be educated as a boarder at the Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz in Switzerland from age 7, where he was the only boy who did not speak the French language. He then graduated from the Sorbonne in Paris.
After working as a Wall Street runner in New York City in the 1950s, White took an interest in theatre, spending five years as assistant to Sir Peter Daubeny for his World Theatre seasons in London.
White produced his first West End play, the London premiere of Jack Gelber's The Connection in 1961. Known for bringing the risqué to the stage his productions included Sleuth, Oh! Calcutta!, Two Gentlemen of Verona and the original Theatre Upstairs production of The Rocky Horror Show.
Concurrently, White produced films, including the film version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (both 1975). Later, he was responsible for The Comic Strip Presents... with Peter Richardson, which began on the opening night of Channel 4 in 1982.
However, losses on films mounted, and he was declared bankrupt in 2005 after suffering a heart attack at the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles.
White's autobiography, Empty Seats, was published in 1985.
White's life story was the subject of the 2013 documentary film The Last Impresario, directed by Gracie Otto. The film made its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013, where it was positively received by critics.
White was married twice. With his first wife, the 1960s model and designer Sarah Hillsdon (1965-1972), he had three children. With his second wife, Louise, an heiress 26 years his junior, he had a son. His ex-girlfriends included film director Lyndall Hobbs.
White died on 7 March 2016 of heart failure, aged 80.
Selected theatrical productions
This list is incomplete, currently listing only White's most notable theatre works:
- Oh! Calcutta! (1970, West End)
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1973, West End)
- The Rocky Horror Show (1973, West End)
- Two Gentlemen of Verona (1973, West End)
- A Chorus Line (1976, West End)
- Annie (1978, West End)
- She Loves Me (1994, West End revival)
- Sleuth (1971, Broadway)
- City Sugar (1978)
As producer or executive producer:
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
- Jabberwocky (1977)
- The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978)
- Going With The Wind (1981)
- My Dinner With Andre (1981)
- Polyester (1981)
- Shock Treatment (1981)
- Countryman (1982)
- Moonlighting (1982)
- Urgh! A Music War (1982)
- The Comic Strip Presents... (1982)
- Dead on Time (1983)
- Heat and Dust (1983)
- The Ploughman's Lunch (1983)
- Strangers Kiss (1983)
- The Supergrass (1985)
- High Season (1987)
- Eat the Rich (1987)
- White Mischief (1987)
- The Deceivers (1988)
- Nuns on the Run (1989)
- The Pope Must Die (1991)
- Robert's Movie (1994)
- Widows' Peak (1994)
- Enigma (2001)
Appearing as himself:
- The Last Impresario (2013)