America's Oldest · Founded 1808
2015 Edwin Forrest Award honorees: Ellen Tobie and Larry Gilberti stand with Producing Artistic Director Bernard Havard. Photo by Mark Garvin.

Edwin Forrest Award

The Edwin Forrest Award was established in 1990 to recognize the long-term, significant contribution to American theatre by an individual or organization. It was named in honor of actor Edwin Forrest (1802-1872), a native Philadelphian often described as America's first great tragedian. Forrest made his stage debut in 1820 in the Walnut Street Theatre production of John Hume's tragedy, Douglas.

Forrest encouraged the development of a truly American theatre that would reflect the tenets of the new republic. He commissioned playwrights to create new works in which he and other American actors could perform. As a final testament to his commitment to the theatre, he endowed his home to be used by indigent actors.

Past Award Recipients
2023 Joseph Meterchick · Regional President for Philadelphia, Delaware, and Southern New Jersey at PNC Bank, National Association
2022 Ramona Gwynn · Arts Patron
2018 Ron Bowlan · Arts Patron
2017 Denise D. Hodgson · Arts Patron
2016 Len Karabell · Former Walnut Street Theatre Controller
Audrey Merves · Arts Patron
2015 Ellen Tobie · Actress
Larry Gilberti · Arts Patron
2013 Albert A. Giagnacova · Arts Patron
2012 Hugh Panaro · Actor
Martin W. Spector · Arts Patron
2011 Diane Dalto Woosnam · Arts Advocate
Dennis Bianchi, NBC-10 · Media Partner
2010 Chuck Abbott · Director
Dan Fitzpatrick, Citizens Bank · Arts patron
2009 Ann Marie Richter · Arts Patron
John P. Connolly · Executive Director, Actors' Equity Association
Mark Zimmerman · President, Actors' Equity Association
2008 Jack Graham · Arts Patron
Robert Prosky · Actor
2007 Ed Satell · Arts Patron
Tony Macauley · Composer/Lyricist
2006 Matt Garfield · Arts Patron
Malcolm Black · Director
2005 Louis W. Fryman, Esq., Fox Rothschild LLP · Arts Patron
Patrick Quinn · Actor
2004 Governor Mark Schweiker · Arts Patron
Sherman Frank · Musical Director
2003 Senator and Mrs. Arlen Specter · Arts Patron
Sheldon Harnick · Lyricist
2002 Pennsylvania House Majority Leader John Perzel · Arts Patron
Danny Newman · Legendary Arts Marketer
2001 Kenneth G. Lawrence, PECO Energy Company · Arts Patron
Joseph Stein · Playwright
2000 Paul S. Beideman, Mellon Bank · Arts Patron
Alfred Uhry · Playwright
1999 Marvin Comisky, Blank Rome LLP · Arts Patron
Kim Hunter · Actress
1998 Ira L. Kamens, PLAYBILL Publisher Mid-Atlantic Region · Arts Patron
Ken Ludwig · Playwright
1997 Mayor Edward G. Rendell · Arts Patron
Laurie Beechman · Actress & Recording Star
1996 David Girard-DiCarlo, Blank Rome LLP · Arts Patron
E.G. Marshall · Actor
1995 Raymond W. Smith, Bell Atlantic · Arts Patron
Richard Kiley · Actor
1994 Terrence Larsen, CoreStates Financial Corp. · Arts Patron
Patricia Neal · Actress
1993 Frederick W. Anton III · Arts Patron
1992 F. Otto Haas · Arts Patron
1991 Celeste Holm · Actress
1990 Frank C. P. McGlinn · Theatre Historian