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Tony-Winner Isabel Bigley Dies

Isabel Bigley, who won a Tony Award for her role in the 1950s Broadway musical classic "Guys and Dolls," has died. She was 80.

Bigley died Saturday of pulmonary disease at a Los Angeles hospital, said her son, Lawrence Barnett Jr.

Bigley had been playing Laurey in the London production of "Oklahoma!" when she was offered the role of Sarah Brown, the "mission doll" who entrances gambler Sky Masterson in the show based on Damon Runyon's characters.

"Guys and Dolls" ran from November 1950 to November 1953 and earned Bigley the 1951 Tony for featured actress in a musical.

She went on to star with Bill Hayes in the 1953 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Me and Juliet." The part was created especially for her and the musical was noted for her song, "No Other Love."

"She was a wonderful performer and a wonderful person," Hayes told the Los Angeles Times on Monday. "She was tall, slender and beautiful, and she retained her beauty all her life."

Bigley was born Feb. 23, 1926, in the Bronx. Her mother was a concert singer and she took an early interest in music that led to a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music.

In 1953, she married Lawrence R. Barnett, president of Music Corp. of America. Five years later, she retired from show business to raise a family. They lived in Rye, N.Y., for 30 years.

She and her husband made many charitable contributions to arts education, including establishing a graduate program in arts policy and administration at Ohio State University.

Last year, Bigley, who had homes in Los Angeles and Rancho Mirage, Calif., was named chairwoman of the board of the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, Calif.

Besides her son, Bigley is survived by her husband; sons Robert, William and James; daughters Claudia Scott and Laurey Treiger; 16 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.


Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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