Larry Sutton, a journalist whose career spanned four decades and who was chiefly responsible for writing the annual Inner Circle show, has died.
He was 64.
Sutton suffered a heart attack Saturday morning, June 17. EMS paramedics responded to his apartment in midtown but were unable to resuscitate him.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.
“Larry was the heart and soul of the Inner Circle,” said Terry Sheridan the organization’s president. Here is a tribute video to Larry and some of his classic roles on stage.
A gifted writer with an unerring eye for just the right turn of phrase, Sutton spent much of his career at the Daily News, before stints at The New York Post, People and OK magazines and, mostly recently, at Time-Life where he edited a steady procession of “bookazines” about the latest headline-making personalities and stories.
A longtime fixture in New York journalism, his sudden death led to an outpouring of tributes — as much for his personal kindness as his talent.
“He was a guy everybody liked,” said former Daily News colleague Murray Weiss. “And it was hard not to like him; he was such a good person to everybody he met.”
New York Post police reporter Larry Celona, a friend for decades, said Sutton was forgiving of just about everyone, even his few enemies.
“We both hated one editor. But the worst thing he’d say about him was just about the same as the nicest thing I would say. ” recalled Celona.
Sutton’s impact on the Inner Circle was incalculable.
He joined in 1980, served as president in 1990 and wrote significant portions of each year’s show, songs and lyrics.
“We’d throw out some ideas the writing committee, he’d jot them down and a week later he’d come in with a polished script,” recalled fellow writer David Seifman. “He must have written 80 percent of the show — and there are more than a dozen people on the writing committee.”
“Larry used to say: keep it short. Larry used to ask: is it funny?” recalled another fellow writer, Andrew Siff.
But with more than 50 members needing parts, that was one battle Sutton invariably lost each year. A soft touch, he would usually give in when it was pointed out someone didn’t have a role.
The city’s public schools were a frequent target because they were constantly in the news.
One joke that drew howls was about a history class in a high-crime neighborhood where the history teacher pointed to one student and asked, “Who shot Lincoln?”
“Not me teach,” came back the reply.
But it as the politicians who came in for most of the ribbing and Sutton, who had spent part of his career covering City Hall, eagerly and enthusiastically made fun of their foibles.
The 2015 show, “Going to Pot” poked at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s claimed accomplishments.
“I’m just too good to be true
What is the matter with you?
Oh can’t you see what I’ve done
Since I became number one?”
The 2017 production, “TRUMPED! De Blasio to the Rescue?” would end up being Sutton’s final show.
And, as usual, it was he who pulled it together.
“He knew I fretted and worried about the show, the parts, concerned that everyone would be happy,” said director Shelly Strickler.
“’You worry too much,” he would tell me. “I really never did have to worry because he was always there behind me.”