Berger Rehearsal Hall
Dorothy Jeter Music Room
Steadman Family Fountain
Berger Rehearsal Hall
Named in honor of
Richard Hill Berger, Starlight Producing Director, 1951-1971
Richard Laurence Berger
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Richard Hill Berger left high school
in 1927 to become a ticket seller at the 46th Street Theatre on
Broadway. Thereafter, he worked for a producer of New York musicals,
spent eight years at the St. Louis Municipal Opera (The Muny) and,
later, worked as a producer for film studios MGM and RKO. In the early
days of television, Mr. Berger was hired by NBC to produce "The Perry
Como Show" and the network's specials.
Mr. Berger began his 20-year career at Starlight Theatre in 1951,
serving as our first Producing Director after Kansas City leaders built
a permanent outdoor theatre in Swope Park. As the former production
manager of The Muny, Mr. Berger had the experience and contacts in show
business to bring quality performers and stage technicians to
It was at The Muny that he formed his theatre philosophy: large
public theatres were places for family entertainment. It was his
intention to keep it that way and, indeed, Starlight's philosophy of
family entertainment has remained unchanged since 1951.
Mr. Berger, his wife, Sherry (a former "Ziegfield Girl") and their
son, Richard Laurence Berger, lived in Kansas City four months out of
each year. During the winter, the senior Berger worked on the details
of the next season's shows. Auditions for the Starlight dancing and
singing chorus were held in New York, Chicago and Kansas City. He is
credited with discovering young stars such as Marilyn Maye and
television actor Charles Nelson Reilly, both of whom got their big
break on the Starlight stage.
Dick Berger was truly "Mr. Starlight" and made audiences happy for 20 years!
He died in Los Angeles in 1998.
When Richard Laurence Berger was 15, his father put him to
work as a Starlight stagehand. Among various tasks, he worked backstage
with the master carpenter, assisted the prop crew and loaded lumber. In
1959, he was cast as a member of the chorus in Starlight's production
of The New Moon.
With the Starlight experience under his belt, the younger Berger
headed to Hollywood. In 1973, he became a vice president at 20th
Century Fox, where he developed film and television productions. In the
late '70s, he joined CBS as vice president in charge of developing new
programs, including the TV series "Dallas" and "Lou Grant."
Richard Laurence Berger would eventually rise through the
entertainment industry ranks to become president of Walt Disney
Pictures, where he started Touchstone Films, and president of MGM.
Despite all his success, he always acknowledged that he learned the
theatre business from the ground up - just as his father had done
The junior Mr. Berger died in Los Angeles on Sept. 29, 2004.
He included a generous trust in his estate for Starlight Theatre,
designated to honor the memory of father and son at Starlight.
Dorothy Jeter Music Hall
Named in honor of
Dorothy Wickstrom Jeter
February 26, 1914 - May 20, 1997
Dorothy Wickstrom Jeter was a musician her entire life. An
accomplished pianist, she shared both her talent and her love of music
with those around her. During many of her later years, she led an
orchestra made up of fellow senior citizens.
Mrs. Jeter instilled her love of music in her three children in many
ways, including bringing them to performances at Starlight. At the
time, free tickets were given out for the last three rows of seats in
the theatre. Dorothy and her children would arrive early to stand in
line for tickets and, then, picnic across the street before the
These memories shared by her three loving children reflect many
other treasured moments held dear by all families touched by the magic
of Starlight Theatre.
The Dorothy Jeter Music Room honors the memory of a woman who loved Starlight Theatre and shared her music with so many.
The Steadman Family Fountain
Backed by a beautifully landscaped terrace, The Steadman Family
Fountain has stood at Starlight Theatre’s West entrance since 1997,
when it was donated in honor of longtime Starlight supporters, Martha
and Jack Steadman.
The Shirley Bush Helzberg Garden of the Stars Fountain featuring 10 gently falling cascades of water and over a dozen vertical
jets, stands at
Starlight Theatre’s East gates. The fountain and garden commemorate
Shirley Bush Helzberg and her family, who have graciously supported
Starlight for decades. In 1984, the Helzberg family increased their
support by making Helzberg Diamonds the first official sponsor of
Starlight Theatre, a tradition that continues to this day.