Sheldon Harnick: Working From Home for 55 Years


In any case, a thesaurus and an enormous Webster’s Dictionary that is very much the worse for wear are always close at hand. Mr. Harnick clearly knows many words, but while at his desk, it seems, he is a man of precious few. “Sheldon works very quietly with his paper and pencils,” Mrs. Harnick said.

“I had a pen that squeaked, so I got rid of that,” Mr. Harnick added waggishly.

When the couple bought the apartment in the mid-60s, it was in excellent shape, requiring nothing more than a fresh coat of white paint. “I helped the painter mix the color,” Mrs. Harnick recalled. “I didn’t want any blue in it, and I didn’t want it to be blinding.”

That the kitchen hadn’t been updated in years was fine with the couple. The old stove was, and remains, a particular delight to them. “We never even thought about renovating. It was so comfortable,” Mrs. Harnick said. “We loved it the way it was. Sheldon isn’t a decorating kind of person.”

Mrs. Harnick took the lead role in putting together the apartment, which is done in earth tones — mostly warm shades of brown. Still, no purchase was made, no fabric selected without the approval of both parties.

No matter how inviting the sofa or the cocoa-colored velvet wing chair, though, nobody is likely to sit for long. There’s a lot to see. The refrigerator is upholstered with snapshots of the Harnicks, assorted family members, friends and colleagues like Danny Burstein, who played Tevye in the 2015 “Fiddler” revival on Broadway, and Mr. Burstein’s wife, the actor Rebecca Luker.

Hanging on a wall just inside the apartment is a self-portrait by Zero Mostel, the original Tevye; paintings by Mrs. Harnick and the couple’s daughter, Beth Harnick Dorn; photographs by their son, Matt Harnick; and rows and rows of show posters from musicals written by Mr. Harnick and musicals featuring Mrs. Harnick. Hanging in the dining room: a pair of photographs of the couple taken by Richard Avedon in the 1960s.



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