Richards has won multiple Tony Awards for his shows.
Richards also produced screen adaptations to Broadway shows including the musical Chicago, along with 1980’s The Shining and 1978’s The Boys From Brazil.
As a producer, he could be beyond stubborn in his pursuit of excellence. The Oscar for Chicago was hard-won. Mr. Richards began his quest to sell the movie adaptation of the Bob Fosse-directed Kander and Ebb musical, about a couple of merry Chicago murderesses who love the spotlight, into a film shortly after the show premiered on Broadway in 1975. Miramax optioned the movie rights to Chicago from Richards in 1991. Ten years later, the film was finally made. Mr. Richards was ever-present, arriving early in the morning every day of the shoot and leaving last, and fighting with the creators when he felt they were diverting from Fosse’s original vision.In 2006, Richards sued Miramax for a portion of Chicago‘s revenue and the lawsuit was settled a few years later.
Richards was also a well known philanthropist, along with his late wife Mary Lea Johnson, he helped found Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Meals on Wheels. He also was responsible for the creation of the New York Center for Children which cares for abused children and he also established the liver and kidney transplantation center at the New York University Medical Center. The Transplantation Center is named after his wife.
Richards did not slow down his work schedule even as he entered his late 70’s. In 1976, Richards founded the movie and theater production company Producer Circle Co. His latest musical, Big Maybelle: Soul of the Blues, opened in August.
Richards is survived by his brother Bruce Klein and a niece and nephew.