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Local Theater Legend Passes Away

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Cleveland theatrical legend John Kenley passed away earlier this month at the age of 103.

Friday, October 30, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Kenley started out his theatrical career as an acrobatic dancer -- a hand-walker -- who'd come to New York via stops in Erie, PA and Cleveland, Ohio. His charm and ambition would later make him indispensable to New York theater mogul Lee Shubert.

In our little corner of the world, John Kenley is best known for creating a legendary chain of summer theaters that brought big shows and Hollywood stars to small towns. The Kenley players ruled the midwest between 1957 and 1995, giving many a fledgling actor valuable experience from a master of the craft.

Back in February of 2007, Dee Perry caught up with the irrepressible impresario by phone from his home in Florida and he shared some of his career highlights, including a memorable stint with Al Jolson in the show Artists and Models in 1926.

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