It’s hard not to hum “Sunrise, Sunset” (swiftly flow the years…) when reporting the death of Joseph Stein, the playwright who wrote the Semitic-kitsch musical classic “Fiddler on the Roof.” According to the BBC, Stein died at a New York hospital from complications after a fall; the writer had been in care suffering from prostate cancer. He was 98.
Stein earned a degree in social work from Columbia University in 1937 and worked for a decade as a psychiatric social worker, according to JTA. After a chance encounter with Zero Mostel, Stein began writing comedy sketches for radio personalities such as Tallulah Bankhead, Phil Silvers and Jackie Gleason, Broadway World noted. Stein later made his television debut while working with Sid Ceasar, when he joined Your Show of Shows and its impressive crew, including included Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Larry Gelbart.