1924 - 1999

José Quintero was born into a strict Catholic household on October 15, 1924 in Panama City. By his own admission, his youth was a series of failures to live up to his domineering father's expectations. When he eventually chose to pursue a career in the theater, he was disowned – a rejection that he said freed him from the worry of failing his family. He attended the University of Southern California and trained at Chicago’s Goodman Theater. In 1949 he made his directorial debut in a Woodstock, NY production of “The Glass Menagerie." Two years later Quintero co-founded New York’s Circle in the Square in Greenwich Village. In 1952 he found great success there with Tennessee Williams’ “Summer and Smoke” starring Geraldine Page. The production was an important factor in finally bringing national attention to off-Broadway work. By 1961, Circle in the Square had mounted 21 productions – nearly all of which were directed by Quintero. He directed his first Eugene O’Neill play, a revival of “The Iceman Cometh,” in 1956. Later that year he directed the original Broadway production of O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”. In all, Quintero directed 17 more productions of O’Neill’s work including the 1973 production of “A Moon for the Misbegotten” which won him a Tony Award. Many credit Quintero with not only reviving attention in O’Neill’s work, but also with cementing his reputation as a giant in the American theater. In 1961, Quintero ventured into film to direct Tennessee Williams’s “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone.” That same year he moved in with his partner, advertising executive Nicholas Tsacrios. In the mid-1970s Quintero was urged by Tsacrios to seek help for his drinking problem. With his partner by his side, he eventually found sobriety. Around this time he also released his autobiography. After cancer surgery in 1987 to remove his larynx, Quintero returned to the stage and directed using an electronic voice box. He also developed an active second career as a university lecturer and professor. José Quintero died of cancer at age 74 on February 26, 1999.


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Latinx

Nations Affiliated Panama United States

Era/Epoch Information Age (1970-present)

Field(s) of Contribution






Commemorations & Honors

Jose Quintero Theatre on West 42nd Street in Manhattan Named in his Honor

University of Houston School of Theatre and Dance Jose Quintero Lab Theatre Named in His Honor

Drama Desk Oustanding Director Award For The Iceman Cometh (1956)

Drama Desk Outstanding Director Award For A Moon For The Misbegotten (1974)

Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play For A Moon For The Misbegotten (1974)

American Theater Hall of Fame Inductee (1979)


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Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell