Lore Noto, 79, producer of The Fantasticks, the world's...

Deaths Elsewhere

July 09, 2002

Lore Noto,

79, producer of The Fantasticks, the world's longest running musical, died in New York yesterday after a long battle with cancer.

It was Mr. Noto, a former actor and artists' agent, who saw the possibilities in a small one-act show written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt when it was first produced in 1959 at Barnard College in New York.

He commissioned the authors to expand the musical, which opened at the tiny Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village on May 3, 1960. It ran for 17,162 performances, closing Jan. 13, a more than 40-year run.

After that final performance, Mr. Noto climbed on stage as the show's simple white curtain was slowly lowered to the ground.

"Sort of like the New Year's Eve ball coming down in Times Square," he said. "We're setting the bar at 17,162. And God bless and good luck to anybody who wants to beat it."

The musical, with book and lyrics by Mr. Jones and music by Mr. Schmidt, told the affecting tale of first love. It's the story of a young girl and young boy, secretly brought together by their fathers and an assortment of odd characters who include a rakish narrator, an old actor, an Indian named Mortimer and a Mute.

Over the years, scores of performers appeared in the New York production. Among the musical's better-known alums are its original El Gallo, Jerry Orbach, and such soap-opera stars as Eileen Fulton and David Canary. F. Murray Abraham, long before his Academy Award for Amadeus, played the Old Actor for a while in the 1960s.

Sid Avery,

83, whose camera captured celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando and Rock Hudson, died of cancer July 1 in Los Angeles. His pictures of the lives of Hollywood stars appeared in Life, Look and the Saturday Evening Post.

Last year, Mr. Avery came out of retirement to shoot the star-studded cast of the remake of Ocean's Eleven. He had shot Frank Sinatra and Sinatra's Rat Pack pals during the making of the original film.

His work includes the 1990 book Hollywood at Home: A Family Album 1950-1965.

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