Lynn Kellogg Simpers, a singer and actress who, as Lynn Kellogg, played Sheila, the uptight debutante who turns into a free-spirited hippie in the original 1968 Broadway production of “Hair,” died on Thursday in St. Louis. She was 77.
The cause was Covid-19, according to Timothy Philen, her publicist.
Her husband, John Simpers, said she had been infected at a recent gathering in a large theater in Branson, Mo. Most of the people there were not wearing masks, he said. Ms. Kellogg Simpers had a non-life-threatening form of leukemia that compromised her vascular system, he added. She died in a hospital.
“Hair,” the original counterculture musical created by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, ran for more than four years at the Biltmore Theater. It has always been an ensemble show, but Sheila is the closest thing it has to a female lead. Her big Act I ballad, “Easy to Be Hard” — “How can people be so heartless? … Especially people who care about strangers/Who care about evil and social injustice?” — comes in response to the casual rudeness of the character Berger (played by Mr. Ragni). Sheila is also one of the lead singers on the show’s finale, “Let the Sun Shine In.”
John Chapman, reviewing the show in The Daily News, did not care for the “tribal love-rock” music, but he liked the cast’s youthful energy. And he appreciated Sheila. “I did see at least one pretty girl, Lynn Kellogg,” he wrote, “and she sang a pretty song called ‘I Believe in Love.’”
The 1969 Tony Awards seemed to be biased in favor of mainstream Broadway productions, and therefore against “Hair,” but the cast’s performance of a medley of “Hair” numbers on the awards telecast impressed a lot of people, including the next celebrity to appear onstage, Zero Mostel.
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