Julie Taymor was the first woman to win a Tony for Best Director of a Musical for “The Lion King” in 1997 — she also won a Tony for Costume Design — and her innovations have been credited with revolutionizing several areas of stagecraft, including the use of masks and puppets.
She was born in Newton to teacher Elizabeth Taymor and gynecologist Melvin Lester Taymor, and her interest in theater took root early — by age 10, she was involved in the Boston Children’s Theatre. Taymor studied in Sri Lanka and India at 15, and after graduating from Newton High at 16 in 1970, studied in Paris at L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, where she first worked with masks and in mime.
As an Oberlin College graduate, she earned a fellowship that allowed her to travel from 1975 to 1979 to Japan and then to Indonesia, where she developed a mask-dance company.
Taymor was selected to direct and co-write “Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark” for Broadway in 2007 but left the show in 2011 amid disputes with producers.
Her film work includes directing the critically acclaimed “Frida” (2002), and she has directed productions for the Metropolitan and Los Angeles opera companies.
In 1991, Taymor won a MacArthur Fellowship for her theater work, and other honors include the first Dorothy B. Chandler Award in Theater and the Brandeis Creative Arts Award.