Last Updated: December 21, 2023
Richest CelebritiesSingers
Net Worth:
$20 Million
Mar 22, 1930 - Nov 26, 2021 (91 years old)
New York City
Composer, Lyricist, Songwriter, Writer, Screenwriter, Film Score Composer, Actor
United States of America
💰 Compare Stephen Sondheim's Net Worth

What was Stephen Sondheim's Net Worth?

Stephen Sondheim was an American composer and lyricist who had a net worth of $20 million at the time of his death.  Stephen Sondheim is considered one of the most influential figures in 20th-century musical theater. After launching his career as the lyricist of the hit musicals "West Side Story" and "Gypsy," he went on to write both the music and lyrics for such renowned shows as "Company," "Follies," "A Little Night Music," "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," and "Into the Woods." Sondheim earned a surfeit of accolades for his work over the decades, including eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and a Pulitzer Prize.

Early Life and Education

Stephen Sondheim was born on March 22, 1930 in New York City as the only child of wealthy Jewish parents Etta and Herbert. He grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and then on a farm near Doylestown, Pennsylvania with his mother after his parents divorced. In New York, Sondheim attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School and the New York Military Academy. He then attended George School, a private Quaker prep school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. After that, Sondheim went to Williams College in Massachusetts, where he studied theater under Milton Babbitt. He graduated magna cum laude in 1950.

Career Beginnings

Following his graduation from college, Sondheim auditioned songs and wrote for the television series "Topper." When he was 22, he finished writing four musicals that he had been prompted to create by his mentor, James Hammerstein. Sondheim went on to write the music and lyrics for the musical "Saturday Night," which was intended to open on Broadway in 1955 but was shelved indefinitely following the death of its lead producer, Lemuel Ayers.

Broadway Breakthroughs

After working on "Saturday Night," Sondheim met playwright and theater director Arthur Laurents at a party. In need of a lyricist for his and Leonard Bernstein's new show, which was to be a musical version of "Romeo and Juliet," Laurents invited Sondheim to audition. Sondheim ended up getting the gig, and wrote the lyrics for what would become his breakthrough musical: "West Side Story." The show opened on Broadway in 1957, and in 1961 was adapted into an Academy Award-winning movie. Sondheim worked with Laurents again on the musical "Gypsy," which opened in 1959.

Further Theater Career

Following "Gypsy," Sondheim began writing both the music and lyrics for Broadway shows. His first Broadway production doing both roles was "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," which debuted in 1962 and went on to win six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Sondheim had considerably less success with his next two musicals, "Anyone Can Whistle" and "Do I Hear a Waltz?" In 1970, he had a major career resurgence with the musical "Company," his first in a long line of collaborations with director Harold Prince. The show was a huge hit, winning the Tony Award for Best Musical. Meanwhile, the making of the original cast recording was captured by documentary filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker in the film "Original Cast Album: Company." Sondheim's next show, "Follies," opened in 1971. Another success, it won seven Tony Awards, including Best Original Score. Sondheim had yet another hit with 1973's "A Little Night Music," which won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. He followed that in 1974 with "The Frogs."

In 1976, Sondheim had one of his more unusual shows, "Pacific Overtures," which was staged in the style of Kabuki theater. It earned mixed reviews. Sondheim won back the critics with his next musical, 1979's "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," about a vengeful barber and his accomplice who bake their victims in pies. The show won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. Sondheim's subsequent show was "Merrily We Roll Along," a critical flop that closed within two weeks in 1981. Feeling discouraged after that, Sondheim was ready to call it quits. However, he regained his motivation and began a fruitful collaboration with playwright James Lapine, resulting in the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1984 musical "Sunday in the Park with George." The pair had further success with 1987's "Into the Woods" and 1994's "Passion," the latter of which won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Meanwhile, Sondheim earned mixed reviews for his off-Broadway musical "Assassins" in 1990. His later shows included "Road Show," "Getting Away with Murder," and "Here We Are," with the lattermost premiering posthumously in 2023.

Getty Images

Other Projects

Sondheim was involved in a variety of projects beyond the theater. An avid fan of puzzles and mystery games, he created cryptic crosswords for New York magazine in the late 1960s. Sondheim's love of puzzles and mysteries led him to cowrite the screenplay for the 1973 whodunnit film "The Last of Sheila" with his friend Anthony Perkins. In other film-related work, he contributed original scores and songs to such movies as "Stavisky," "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution," "Reds," "Dick Tracy," and "The Birdcage." For the ballad "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" from "Dick Tracy," Sondheim won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Later, in the final year of his life, he made cameos in the films "tick, tick… BOOM!" and "Glass Onion." The former film was an adaptation of the musical by Jonathan Larson, whom Sondheim had mentored.

Among his many other projects, Sondheim contributed to the television series "ABC Stage 67," writing the music and lyrics for the 1966 musical episode "Evening Primrose." Later, from 1973 to 1981, Sondheim served as the president of the Dramatists Guild of America. In 00s, he held a series of discussions with New York Times columnist Frank Rich in cities throughout the United States. Sondheim later collaborated with musician and composer Wynton Marsalis on "A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Affair," a concert held in late 2013 at New York City Center. The concert consisted of over two dozen Sondheim compositions reimagined by Marsalis. Sondheim also had a large number of unrealized projects during his lifetime, including the play "The Race to Urga," the film "The Chorus Girl Murder Case," and the musical "All Together Now."

Personal Life and Death

Sondheim was an introverted person who preferred a solitary life. He rarely talked about personal matters, but came out as gay when he was around 40. In the 1990s, Sondheim was in a relationship with dramatist Peter Jones. He later married digital technologist Jeffrey Romley in 2017.

On November 26, 2021, Sondheim passed away at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. He was 91 years of age. The next year, producer Cameron Mackintosh presented a two-hour concert tribute on the West End called "Stephen Sondheim's Old Friends," starring such actors as Judi Dench, Helena Bonham Carter, Damian Lewis, Bernadette Peters, and Rob Brydon.

Real Estate

At the time of his death, Stephen owned a gorgeous townhouse in Manhattan and a 9-acre estate in Roxbury, Connecticut. Two years following his death, both properties were put up for sale. His townhouse, which is located at 246 E 49th St, has seven bedrooms and spans 5,700 square feet. It is one of twenty homes that comprise the coveted enclave of Turtle Bay Gardens. The home was listed for sale in July 2023 for $7 million and sold in November 2023, for right around the asking price. Here is a video tour:

In November 2023, right around the time his townhouse sold, Stephen's estate placed his 9-acre Roxbury, Connecticut mansion on the market for $3.25 million. Dating back more than 230 years, the three-bedroom home has a music room, library, pool house, lush lawns and more.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
Did we make a mistake?
Submit a correction suggestion and help us fix it!
Submit a Correction