Actress Joan Diener dies

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NEW YORK (AP) – Joan Diener, an actress who starred in the original 1965 Broadway production of “Man of La Mancha,” has died. Diener, who lived in Manhattan, died Saturday of complications from cancer, said her grandson, Ethan Marre. She was 76.

After a bit part in the 1950 Broadway comedy “Season in the Sun,” Diener won a role in the 1953 musical, “Kismet,” playing the voluptuous Lalume. She later starred in the London production of this Arabian Nights musical.

After a dozen years away from Broadway, Diener played the country wench Aldonza in “Man of La Mancha,” starring Richard Kiley. It was directed by her husband, Albert Marre, who had also directed “Kismet.”

“Man of La Mancha” was one of the longest-running musicals of the 1960s, playing more than 2,300 performances.

Diener recreated the role of Aldonza in other productions, including the London production, a a French-language version starring Jacques Brel and again on Broadway when she succeeded Sheena Easton as Aldonza in the 1992 revival.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, on Feb. 24, 1930, she attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., where she majored in psychology and moonlighted as a stage actress.

Diener is survived by her husband, a son, Adam Marre, a daughter, Jennifer Marre, and three grandsons, including Ethan. A funeral service was held on Monday.

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