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LETTER, BEN I.

LETTER, BEN I. (25 Dec. 1907-27 June 1983) spent nearly half a century as a technician and stage manager at the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE. A native Clevelander, he acquired his first taste for the theater at Glenville High School, where his drama instructor was Katherine Wick Kelly, wife of Play House director FREDERIC McCONNELL. After 2 years of study at the Cleveland Law School (see CLEVELAND STATE UNIV.), Letter joined the Play House staff in 1928 as an apprentice technician. In 1940 he became a technical director and in 1958 associate scenic director, building scenery and handling the lighting for 200 shows. After 1946 he increasingly served as stage manager, handling a total of 500 plays in that capacity. Whenever necessary, he also appeared on stage as an actor in bit parts or walk-on roles. He also worked during the Play House's summer seasons in Chautauqua, N.Y., continuing his visits there even after his retirement from the theater in 1976. Letter died at MT. SINAI MEDICAL CENTER; never married, he was survived by a brother and a sister.