News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Roger Horchow, Dallas-Based Mail-Order Magnate And Broadway Producer, Dies At 91

Roger Horchow in his Dallas home in 2013.
Roger Horchow in his Dallas home in 2013.

He met George Gershwin as a child and fell in love with his music. He went on to sell luxury goods by mail order like no one else — and then created one of the ultimate luxury goods: his very own George Gershwin musical on Broadway.

Roger Horchow, the Dallasite who created The Horchow Collection catalog and produced the now-classic Broadway musical, “Crazy for You,” died Saturday morning in his Dallas home. He was 91.

It came after a short battle with cancer and with his three daughters there. His daughter Sally Horchow said there would be no memorial service.

“Dad wanted to be at his own memorial,” she said, “and since he can’t, we thought we’d honor his wishes.”

In addition to his successes in retail and on Broadway, Horchow was a significant benefactor to North Texas nonprofits — including the Dallas Museum of Art, UT Southwestern and KERA, where he served on the board for many years.

A retail pioneer

Horchow was the first retailer to sell high-end goods by mail-order catalog — without first opening a bricks-and-mortar store on the street to establish its reputation with buyers. He was so successful, he sold his mail-order outfit to the store that had hired him and inspired him: Neiman Marcus. Then he went on to win a Tony Award producing his very first show, which became a worldwide success. And this was when only one out of every 22 Broadway shows ever made its money back.

But perhaps Horchow’s real skill was not in knowing which sumptuous trinkets the affluent might buy. Or even in bringing back splashy American showbiz: He was profiled in a bestselling book by Malcolm Gladwell for the simple reason that — as most people who met Horchow realized — he had a low-key friendliness, a charming, sleepy-eyed knack for getting to know just about everyone — and remembering them.

Read an in-depth remembrance at Art&Seek.

Got a tip? Email Jerome Weeks at Follow him on Twitter @dazeandweex.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Jerome Weeks is the Art&Seek producer-reporter for KERA. A professional critic for more than two decades, he was the book columnist for The Dallas Morning News for ten years and the paper’s theater critic for ten years before that. His writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, American Theatre and Men’s Vogue magazines.