Hollywood Goes to Pasadena to Rescue An Old Playhouse Where Stars Were Born
Many of the guests, like chairwoman Sally Struthers, had apprenticed, performed or taught at the playhouse and school established by Shakespearean actor Gilmor Brown; they featured such nascent stars as John Carradine, Raymond Burr and Dustin Hoffman. Struthers found herself "flooded with memories" when she slipped in a side door of the mission-style building on El Molino Avenue. "I used to run out of that door after class," she recalled, "to get to the restaurant where I worked as a waitress."
Hard times hit the playhouse when its founder died in 1960, and it went dark eight years later. But, thanks to $1.3 million in federal funds and community donations, the doors are scheduled to reopen in January 1981.
Though he never worked at the playhouse, Ed Asner co-chaired the event with Struthers because "many things that we treasured from our past are dying or defunct." The reason Barbi Benton and her new real estate investor hubby, George Gradow, attended was less lofty. "We're here tonight because we live right around the corner," said the Hee Haw honey. "If it isn't worth staying, we can always go home." But it was, and they didn't.