Mr. Landesman was born (July 20, 1947) and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He pursued his undergraduate education at Colby College and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and earned a doctorate in Dramatic Literature at the Yale School of Drama. At the completion of his course work, Mr. Landesman stayed at the school for four years, working as an assistant professor.
Mr. Landesman's ensuing career has been a hybrid of commercial and artistic enterprises. In 1977, he left Yale to start a private investment fund which he ran until his appointment in 1987 as President of Jujamcyn, a company that owns and operates five Broadway theaters: St. James, Al Hirschfeld, August Wilson, Eugene O'Neill, and Walter Kerr theaters.
Before and after joining Jujamcyn, Mr. Landesman produced Broadway shows, the most notable of which are Big River (1985 Tony Award for Best Musical), Angels in America: Millenium Approaches (1993 Tony Award for Best Play), Angels in America: Perestroika (1994 Tony Award for Best Play), and The Producers (2001 Tony Award for Best Musical). In 2005, he purchased Jujamcyn and operated it until President Obama announced his intention to nominate him to the NEA chairmanship.
Mr. Landesman has been active on numerous boards, including the Municipal Arts Society; the Times Square Alliance; The Actor's Fund; and the Educational Foundation of America. Mr. Landesman has also vigorously engaged the ongoing debate about arts policy, speaking at forums and writing numerous articles, focusing mainly on the relationship between the commercial and not-for-profit sectors of the American theater. Over the years, he returned to the Yale School of Drama and Yale Rep to teach.
Mr. Landesman is married to Debby Landesman. Mrs. Landesman is an independent consultant and the former executive director of the Levi Strauss Foundation; she advises corporations and foundations on their philanthropic strategies. He has three sons: North, Nash, and Dodge.
Mr. Landesman's biggest passions are theater, baseball, horse racing, and country music. On any given day he will insist that one of these is the perfect expression of American culture. At one time or another, he owned three minor league baseball teams, various racehorses, and a collection of Roger Miller long-playing records.