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Charlie Smalls; Wrote 'Wiz' Score That Won a Tony

September 08, 1987

Charlie Smalls, who wrote the words and music to the hit musical "The Wiz," has died in Bruges, Belgium, during surgery for a burst appendix. He was 43.

The New York native, who died Aug. 27, gave his first piano concert at 5 and later graduated from the Juilliard School.

In 1975 he was asked by producer Ken Harper to help turn "The Wizard of Oz" into a contemporary black musical. The show won seven Tonys, including best musical, and Smalls won one of those seven for his score.

The play ran for four years and was turned into a 1978 movie starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

Smalls had finished writing the songs for the musical "Miracles" shortly before his death.

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