Arts community remembers former ‘Youtheatre’ director, Broadway performer

Harvey Cocks Jr.
Harvey Cocks Jr.(Fort Wayne Youtheatre)
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 12:07 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - A fixture in the local arts community and former director of the children-centered “Youtheatre” has died.

Harvey Cocks Jr. made his mark locally, but also in New York City as a Broadway performer. The son of a movie industry executive, Cocks moved with his family to Fort Wayne in the late 1920s, and after another relocation, the family settled here a decade later.

After high school, Cocks began performing -- on Broadway, television and on tour. He was part of the cast of the original Broadway production of “Life with Father,” which ran for three-and-a-half years on New York’s big stage.

When Cocks’ father passed away, he returned to Fort Wayne to take over the family business. That included running what is now the Clyde Theatre at Quimby Village. He became the director of “Fort Wayne Youtheatre” in 1977 and would maintain a leadership role there until 2010, when he became “Artist-in-Residence.”

In 2019, Cocks was presented with Youtheatre’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry proclaimed May 17 “Harvey Cocks Day.”

“Everyone at Fort Wayne Youtheatre is heartbroken over the passing of former longtime Executive Director Harvey Cocks,” the group’s current Executive and Artistic Director, Todd Espeland, said. “We send our deepest sympathies to his family. Harvey was the heart and soul of Youtheatre for over 40 years, passionately believing in and promoting the social and educational value of theatre arts in the lives of young people.

“In the Fort Wayne arts community, he was a beloved and respected individual who helped create the vibrant and creative theatre community we have today. They say success is achieved by standing on the shoulders of giants. Harvey Cocks was truly one of those giants. Youtheatre owes so much of who we are to him. He will be missed.”

Cocks was 96 years old and would have celebrated his 97th birthday this weekend.

Harvey Cocks Jr.
Harvey Cocks Jr.(Fort Wayne Youtheatre)

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