DawnWatch: Gretchen Wyler obituaries 5/28 – 5/30/07

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: May 30, 2007 2:11 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Gretchen Wyler obituaries 5/28 – 5/30/07

The Wednesday, May 30 New York Times and London Independent both have obituaries honoring the incomparable Gretchen Wyler, founder of the Genesis Awards (see http://tinyurl.com/2db48s) and beloved mentor to many of us. The Los Angeles Times obit ran on Monday. I will paste the beautiful Independent write-up in full below, and also the Los Angeles Times obituary, which focused the most on her animal protection work. And I will provide a link to the New York Times piece, which includes a delightful photo.

Here is the Independent piece:

The Independent (London)
Wednesday, May 30, 2007

GRETCHEN WYLER; Overnight star on Broadway

Tom Vallance

The musical star Gretchen Wyler achieved overnight success in 1955 when she was promoted from understudy to featured player shortly before the Cole Porter musical Silk Stockings opened on Broadway, going on to stop the show. She subsequently played star parts in other musicals, but generally as a replacement for performers such as Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera, who first created the roles. “I don’t really admit to this,” she said, “but other people say, ‘Poor Gretchen, it never really happened.'”

The daughter of a petroleum engineer, she was born Gretchen Patricia Winneche in Bartlesville, Oklahoma in 1932, and had her first dancing lesson at the age of three. She made her theatrical d├ębut in 1950 as part of the ballet ensemble with the St Louis Municipal Opera company. Later the same year she moved to New York where she was cast in the chorus of Frank Loesser’s Where’s Charley?, a musical version of Charley’s Aunt starring Ray Bolger. “I was the baby in that show,” she said, and I loved Ray Bolger – I used to stand in the wings every night and watch him. He even gave me my name. He said if I was going to stay in the theatre – and I was – I needed to have a name for the marquee. “What do you think about Gretchen Wyler?” I couldn’t believe it. The great Ray Bolger giving me a name.

(More below the fold…)