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Richard LeRoy Laughlin

aka Dick Laughlin


Dick was born Jan. 19, 1936 in rural Mooresville/Plainfield, Ind., to Carol and Melvin Laughlin.

He was educated in a one-room schoolhouse in Pana, Ill., and graduated from Odon-Madison Township High School, Odon, Ind., in 1954. He attended Indiana State University, Terre Haute, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Music Education in 1958 and his Master of Science in Music Education in 1962. He also pursued his doctoral studies in music at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Dick taught in the music departments at Delphi High School, Delphi, from 1958 to 1962 and North Central High School, Indianapolis, from 1963 to 1967 and 1969 to 1974. A regular columnist for Musicator Magazine, he was the director of public relations for Indiana Music Educators. A conductor/clinician for secondary schools, colleges and professional organizations, Dick was also the disc jockey/program coordinator at WTHI/AM/FM/TV in Terre Haute from 1962 to 1963 during his teaching fellowship at Indiana State University.


Outside of teaching, he had an extensive career in music. He was the musical director for the National Tour of Broadway’s “Shenandoah” starring John Cullum and John Raitt, as well as associate conductor/pianist for the National Tour of “Music Man” starring Tony Randall. Off-Broadway, he was the conductor/musical director/pianist for “Reunion” as well as his own composition and arrangements of “Rainbow Cabaret” starring Helen Hayes, Beatrice Straight and Betsy Palmer, and “Sweet Singer,” based on the life and work of Al Jolson.

Dick worked with many talents including Betty Grable in “Hello, Dolly”; Eleanor Parker in “Applause”; Carol Lawrence in “Funny Girl” and “Unsinkable Molly Brown” also with Harve Presnell; Ken Barry, Gale Gordon and Nanette Fabray in “No, No, Nanette”; Constance Towers and John Raitt in “Oklahoma!”; Dean Jones, Alan Seuss and Mamie Van Doren in “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”; Edie Adams in “Mame”; and Peter Marshall in “Music Man”; Ann Miller in “Hello, Dolly!”, Joel Gray in “George M,” Micky Callan in “Promises, Promises,” Theodore Bickel and Maria Karnilova in “Fiddler On The Roof,” Hans Conreid, Constance Towers and Edward Mulhare in “My Fair Lady,” Ed McMahon in “Variety Show,” and Ed Ames and Christine Ebersole in Shenandoah.

His life in music & theatre also crossed paths with the likes of Alan Alda, Robert Alda, Antony Alda, Smothers Brothers, Carol Channing, Howard Keel, Dorothy McGuire, Sally Field, Burt Reynolds, Art Linkletter, Van Johnson, Shirley Jones, Jack Cassidy, Noel Harrison (son of Rex), Scott Bakula, Gary Burghoff, Arte Johnson, Martin Milner, David Hart, Kathryn Grayson, Alexis Smith, Tommy Tune, Kaye Ballard, Jimmy and Bob Walton, Karen Mason, Sophie (Schwab) Hayden, James Cagney, Dorothy Loudon, Howard Morris, Kelly Bishop, Cesar Romero, Christopher Hewitt, Marcia Lewis, Barney Martin, Phyllis Diller, Scott Sampson, Pat O’Brien, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Rudy Tronto, Kenny 'Babyface' Edmunds, Gary Geld and Peter Udell.


At Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre in Indianapolis, he was musical director for more than 125 productions from 1983 to 2001, having also previously worked at the Beef & Boards Dinner Theatres in Louisville, Ky., and Cincinnati, Ohio. Also in Indianapolis, Dick was the choral director/accompanist for Starlight Musicals for five seasons, the three-year resident conductor for the C.T.S. Repertory Theatre, and worked at the Avondale Dinner Theatre and Christian Theological Seminary Repertory Theatre. Elsewhere in Indiana, he worked at the Terre Haute Civic Theatre, Indiana State University Opera Workshop Theatre and the Weldin Talley Memorial Playhouse, all in Terre Haute, and Indiana University Opera Theatre, Bloomington. His talents also took him to the Brunswick Music Theatre in Maine where he served as conductor/musical director; the Showboat Dinner Theatre in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he was the conductor; Naples Dinner Theatre, Naples, Fla.; the Left Bank Dinner Playhouse in Peoria, Ill.; and in Ohio to the Carousel Dinner Theatre in Ravenna, Ken Shaw’s Summer Star Theatre, Toledo, and the Canal Fulton Dinner Theatre.

He co-authored, produced and conducted the Bicentennial show, “Revelation,” a full-length musical comedy revue covering 200 years of American history which played in Chicago, Fort Wayne, Cincinnati, Louisville and Indianapolis.


Dick was also director of choirs at Northminster Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, and Montrose Methodist Church, and served as director at First Baptist and First Christian churches. He created and directed The Joyful Sounds, a pop-rock vocal ensemble, and was the founder of Full Circle Productions Inc., an Indianapolis-based company for professional quality entertainment.

Dick took a brief hiatus from music from 1967 to 1969, during which time he was the public relations director for Bureau of Conferences at Indiana State University. He also enjoyed spending time at his lakeside cabin near Bloomington on Lake Lemon, where he would compose, arrange and rehearse.


Dick was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Blue Key National Honor Society, Phi Delta Kappa, and proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Dick was 71. He died just after midnight Sept. 5, 2007 at his home. He is survived by his companion, Sean Stumpf, Indianapolis; brother Don Laughlin, Odon, Ind., and many nieces and nephews and extended family.

Final resting place will be at Walnut Hill Cemetery, Odon/Daviess County, Indiana