Brian Nebenzahl, the founder and retired Chairman of Playbill, has died aged 86. He passed away peacefully in Sydney on Sunday 12 September.

Born in Poland on 23 October 1934, Nebenzahl’s family migrated to Australia when he was four. During his school years at The Scots College in Sydney, he became good friends with Lance Peters and Lloyd Martin, whose father, David Martin, ran the Tivoli circuit.

Michael and Brian Nebenzahl

Nebenzahl began his career selling cinema advertising, but in 1958 he and Peters approached Lloyd Martin, who was then the advertising manager at the Tivoli, to ask if they could publish and sell the Tivoli program. Martin gave them the go-ahead, and Playbill was born.

Next, they began making theatre programs for JC Williamson’s. Before long Playbill would become Australia’s leading performing arts program publishers and merchandise operators, transforming the sector.

Nebenzahl married his wife Jocelyn Nebenzahl in 1957 and for over 60 years they worked together producing souvenir programs and merchandise for...