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Craig Zadan dead: Hollywood producer behind hit musicals Chicago and Hairspray dies at 69

Amy West August 22, 2018

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 02: Executive producer Craig Zadan speaks onstage at the 'Hairspray Live!' panel discussion during the NBCUniversal portion of the 2016 Television Critics Association Summer Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Craig Zadan, the celebrated producer behind several, hugely successful movies including Hairspray, Footloose and Chicago, has died, at the age of 69.

Zadan, who was openly gay, passed away on Monday following complications with a recent shoulder replacement surgery.

According to NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, who announced the news on Tuesday, he was at his Hollywood Hills home at the time of his death.

“On behalf of his life partner, Elwood Hopkins, and his producing partner, Neil Meron, we are stunned that the man behind so many incredible film, theater, and television productions – several of them joyous musicals – was taken away so suddenly,” Greenblatt said in a statement.

“Craig’s distinguished career as a passionate and consummate producer is eclipsed only by his genuine love for the thousands of actors, directors, writers, musicians, designers, and technicians he worked with over the years. His absence will be felt in our hearts and throughout our business.”

Zadan and producing partner Meron produced several Oscars broadcasts and were the duo behind hit live musical TV productions including 2015’s The Sound of Music Live! and the recently Emmy-nominated Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert starring John Legend.

Upon hearing the news, many well-known names from the film and television industry took to social media to share heartfelt tributes to Zadan.

Nick Jonas, who worked with him when he guest-starred in Smash, wrote: “Heartbroken hearing the news about my dear friend Craig Zadan. Such a kind soul. An inspiration to many.

“He and Neil Meron were responsible for a huge moment in my life where I grew as a man and a performer. I am so grateful to have known you. We will all miss your smile Craig. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.”

Meanwhile legendary singer-turned-actress Barbra Streisand tweeted: “I am shocked and saddened to hear of Craig Zadan’s passing. We collaborated on several projects…and he was always a joy to work with. His kindness and his creativity will surely be missed.”

Zadan, producer of the Academy Awards and Lady Gaga sharing a moment backstage during the 87th Annual Academy Awards (Christopher Polk/Getty)

Will & Grace star Sean Hayes also paid his respects, saying: “I am devastated by the news of the passing of my dear friend and film, tv & Broadway producer, @craigzadan. My life and career were forever changed by the opportunities he and his producing partner, @neilmeron, provided me over the years. I will miss him, dearly.”

Musician John Legend called Zadan “a wonderful producer and a lovely man” in his reaction.

Elsewhere, GLAAD issued a short statement, that read: “We’re so sad to hear about the passing of the incredible producer Craig Zadan. We honored Craig at the in 2012 for accelerating acceptance for LGBTQ people through his work. Our love goes out to his partner Elwood Hopkins and his producing partner Neil Meron.”

Craig Zadan (L) and fellow producer Neil Meron have produced several successful films together including Chicago, The Bucket List and Hairspray (Frederick M. Brown/Getty)

Across their careers, Zadan and Meron’s productions, which also include The Bucket List and a number of televised Oscars events, have earned a total of six Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, 17 Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, a Grammy Award, six GLAAD Awards, four NAACP Image Awards and two Tony Awards.

Zadan, himself, has been nominated for 14 Emmy Awards but has never won.

More: Celebrity deaths, Chicago, craig zadan, Hairspray, Hollywood, US

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