Theater magnate James M. Nederlander presided over the Nederlander Organization for nearly half a century.
The business, which was founded in 1912 by his father, grew as the family did. The Nederlanders moved to Chicago first, later to New York and other cities. In 1965, the Nederlander Organization paid $1.4 million to buy New York’s Palace Theatre, then spent an additional $500,000 to refurbish it. By the time patriarch David Nederlander died in 1967 at the age of 81, the family had nine theaters and four movie houses, which were later sold as they focused on live theater. By 1968, James — or Jimmy, as he's commonly known — and his brother Joseph were booking New Jersey’s Garden State Arts Center. A few years later, they developed and built Detroit’s Pine Knob Pavilion, also an outdoor theater.
Along the way they’ve promoted acts for other theaters as well as their own and presented classical and pop concerts that have included many national and international performers – from Blood, Sweat and Tears to the Bolshoi Ballet.
In 1975, the management of the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles passed over to the James M. Nederlander Cos. At the time, Nederlander said the Greek, which “doesn’t take a back seat to anyone,” would regain its position as one of the finest installations in the world. Audiences know quality, Nederlander said, and they know professionalism. “This is not a game for amateurs,” he stated matter-of-factly. “If you import the Royal Shakespeare Co., for example, you know that even if the play is not a critical success, it will be well done, and you’ll be proud to have your name on it. They’re professionals.”
Nederlander Concerts, headquartered in Los Angeles, operates and programs the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, the Grove of Anaheim and the San Jose Civic. Nederlander's son, James L. Nederlander, is the president of the Nederlander Organization, one of the few remaining family-run entertainment enterprises in the U.S.
Born in 1922, Nederlander has produced and presented concerts, Broadway shows, comedies and events for more than 50 years and has worked in nearly all aspects of the theater business: advertising, box office, production and management. A legendary figure on Broadway, he won a Tony Award for lifetime achievement in 2004.