ONE of the West End's most influential producers, Toby Rowland, died

yesterday aged 77 after a long battle against cancer.

Born in Montana, he went to New York to make his fortune in the

theatre after college.

His first production was in New York in 1938 at The Playroom Club, off

Broadway, which he co-founded.

He had spells in Hollywood, where he was encouraged by James Cagney.

He moved to London in 1950.

He produced Summertime in 1955 with Dirk Bogarde and Geraldine McEwan;

Shadow Of Heroes with Peggy Ashcroft and Emlyn Williams, and Brouhaha,

with Peter Sellers, both in 1958.

Lord Snowdon said: ''I knew him first in the 1950s when I was a young

unknown photographer and he did so much to help and encourage me. He

would give opportunities to everyone.

''He was a great patron of the arts and a great theatre producer and

he will be missed dreadfully by everyone in the profession and


Actress and director Thelma Holt said: ''I can't afford the indulgence

of saying I will miss him because I can't bear the thought of him not

being there.

''He was enormously generous and he was really the last of the great

producers who worked with all the glamorous stars.''

Theatre agent Sue Hyman said the lights would be dimmed in theatreland

as a tribute to the man from Montana.

His wife, Millie, who nursed him through his lengthy illness during

which he was fitted with a voice box, was with him when he died.

He retired in 1984 as a director of Stoll Moss Theatres. A memorial

service is being planned for later this year.