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Theater legend Ruth Hale dies

April 24, 2003

SALT LAKE CITY -- Glendale lost one of its foremost theatrical

figures when actress and theater founder Ruth Hale died in her home

state of Utah.

Hale died Sunday of natural causes. She was 94.

Hale was best known for co-founding the Colorado Street Theatre,

the Doran Street Theatre and the Orange Street Theatre, which became

the Glendale Centre Theatre in 1964. Glendale Centre Theatre is the

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country's longest continually operating theater-in-the-round, which

draws more than 120,000 patrons annually, according to Hale's family.

Hale and her family ran the theater's affairs for more than 35

years, including script writing, casting, scenery and performing in

its productions. She retired in 1980.

"Grandma was bursting with life," said Hale's grandson, Tim

Dietlein, who continues to run the theater. "She had more energy,

love and compassion than any one person I've ever known. She was the

most giving person you could expect, and she gave a tremendous amount

of herself and her humor to the community."

Born in 1908 in Salt Lake City, Hale taught third grade before

moving to Glendale in 1941 to pursue screenwriting and acting with

her husband Nathan. Nathan Hale died in 1994 of prostate cancer.

Ruth Hale wrote more than 80 comedies and musicals, many of which

were published and performed worldwide.

Her numerous recognitions include citations from presidents Ronald

Reagan, George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton for her achievement in

family theater arts.

Actor and director Mario DiGregorio got his start with Hale's

Doran Street Theatre in 1962.

"For me, it's the end of an era," he said. "[The Hales] started

this theater, they built it and they made it work. We all grew up as

actors working with [Ruth Hale], and it's an era I'm sorry to see go.

She was a great lady, and an awful lot of people got their start

because of her."

She is survived by six sons and daughters, including Sandra

Dietlein, 70; Phillip Hale, 68; Sherry Brian, 66; Sally Rice, 62;

Tanya Radebaugh, 59; Cody Hale, 51; and 122 extended family members.

A service is scheduled for noon Friday at Taylorsville Stake

Center Church in Taylorsville, Utah.

For more information, call (801) 968-3800.

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