Charlie Cinnamon died this morning, just on the cusp of his 95th birthday.
Charlie was the soul of Miami's theater scene, both a fan and, ever so subtly, a player. He was my favorite public relations guy, and I have known a lot of them. Few people, if anyone — maybe Joe Adler or Adrienne Arsht or Teo Castellanos or Paul Tei — have been as important in building this city's performing arts scene.
He'd call or stop by with a tip or a compliment. He'd smile that big smile. You couldn't help but love the guy.
Charlie was courteous, kind, and decent. Never pushy. As my old buddy and longtime New Times writer Frank Alvarado says: "He was always a nice, straightforward guy. You don't find those kinds of guys in Miami."
In 2006, New Times named Charlie Best Cultural Ambassador:
For more than 40 years, Charlie has been responsible for some of Miami's finest and longest-running cultural events. Without him, there would be no Coconut Grove Arts Festival. The Miami Beach Festival of the Arts probably wouldn't have become the nationally known event it is today. And local theater would be lost. In 1983 he was honored with the Carbonell Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts by the South Florida Entertainment Writers Association. In 1984 the City of Miami Beach Fine Arts Board named him Man of the Year. In 1985 the PROPS Women of Show Business created the inaugural Charles Cinnamon Award, which is given out annually by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. This past March 25, 2006, Cinnamon was awarded the Playhouse Lifetime Community Achievement Award. Quite simply, he's tops.
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Afrobella creator Patrice Grell Yursik, who was once this newspaper's culture editor, says of Charlie:
Charlie Cinnamon taught me so much about work, life, and Miami. He was an enduring light for theater in South Florida. He accomplished so much and truly changed culture in Miami for the better, but it was never about him – he worked tirelessly for his clients. He was modest, genuine, passionate, and truly treated me as a friend and an equal. He was such a joy to work with, because he was a true professional. Behind the scenes he was funny as hell with a razor sharp wit, full of incredible stories from the old days of Miami theater. I often told him he should write a book on the lost art of being a press agent, because so many in the field didn’t get it. He had so many great stories. Lunch with Charlie was such a treat.
Charlie and my relationship went beyond editor and PR; we became friends. He saw my talent and encouraged me to reach higher. This is a devastating loss for the arts in South Florida and for so many of his friends in PR, theater, and the press. He touched so many of our lives. I am so blessed and honored to have been his friend.