Volume 74, Number 13 | July 28 - August 03 , 2004


Julie Kurnitz, 61, singer/actress got start in Village

By Albert Amateau

Julie Kurnitz, a Village resident for 40 years and a singer/actress who performed at the Judson Poets Theatre in the 1960s, in cabarets and in Woody Allen’s film “Radio Days,” died July 15 at New York Hospital at the age of 61.

She died of complications of Marfan syndrome, a hereditary disease of connective tissue, after heart surgery in March, according to her sister, Lyz Kurnitz-Thurlow.

Julie Kurnitz wrote the book and lyrics for a one-woman show, “Clinical Trials,” with a fellow Villager, Joel Maisano, who wrote the music, about living with Marfan. She also conducted lectures and workshops for people and families affected by genetic disorders, her sister said.

Born Sept. 8, 1942, in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., she was the daughter of Philip Kurnitz and Sylvia Robinson Kurnitz and the niece of the playwright Harry Kurnitz. “She was always a singer with a marvelous voice and began singing in Al Carmines’ shows at Judson when she moved to the Village,” her sister said.

Among her Judson shows that went on to Off-Broadway theaters were “In Circles,” “Peace,” “Joan” and “The Faggot.” She was also in “A Look at the Fifties,” which played the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. On Broadway, she was in “Minnie’s Boys” and “Gorey Stories.” She also appeared as the hostess in the “Breakfast with Irene and Roger” scenes in the film “Radio Days.”

Her cabaret career, which began in the 1970s, included engagements at The Duplex, The Ballroom, Eighty Eights and The Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel. In 1984, during her first aorta operation, she was diagnosed with Marfan, a disease that often occurs in tall people — she was 5 ft. 11 in. — and frequently affects the aorta.

The day she died, about a dozen theater friends and Village neighbors gathered around her hospital bed and sang to her, her sister said. In addition to her sister, of Tacoma, Wash., her brother-in-law and two nephews also survive.

Contributions may be made in her memory to the National Marfan Foundation Scholarship Fund, 22 Manhasset Ave., Port Washington, N.Y. 11050. A memorial service at Judson Memorial Church will be announced later.

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