Stephen Sondheim, hailed as one of Broadway's most iconic and influential songwriters, died early Friday at his Connecticut home, the New York Times reported. He was 91.
Sondheim, whose work included West Side Story and Sweeney Todd, did not have any known illness, and his death was sudden, his friend and lawyer, F. Richard Pappas, told the Times. He had celebrated Thanksgiving with friends in Roxbury, Connecticut, on Thursday, Pappas added.
Sondheim had been a prolific composer and lyricist since the 1950s, and his innovative and celebrated work for shows like Company, Follies, Into the Woods, Gypsy, and Sunday in the Park With George, among many others, is widely credited with setting a new standard in American musical theater.
During his decadeslong career, Sondheim received multiple awards, including six Tony Awards for best score, a Pulitzer Prize for Sunday in the Park, an Oscar for the song "Sooner or Later" from the movie Dick Tracy, and five Olivier Awards, the Washington Post reported. In 2015, then-president Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Stars including Hugh Jackman and Barbra Streisand, as well as theater fans, flooded social media with tributes to the songwriting titan, with some sharing personal stories of how much his work had impacted them.
Sondheim was known for sending personal and thoughtful letters to those who wrote to him, and many shared the touching notes they had received from him.