Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
LDS Theater founder and artist honored for starring roles
By Ivan M. Lincoln: Deseret News theater editor
LDS Church member Ruth Hale was the recipient of the "Utah Governor's
Mansion Artist Award" when she was honored Tuesday evening. The
ninety-one-year-old actress and artist was presented the awards by Utah
Governor, Mike Leavitt in the Gold Room of the Capitol. Hale received a
standing ovation. He said, "she may have added more to theatre than any
other living Utahn."
In addition, an Artist Award was presented to Nancy Lund. Leavitt
said, "the fruit of your brush is our treasure." With many of her
paintings on display throughout the evening, Lund has previously had
exhibits in the United States, Japan and Europe. She is also known
widely for her hand-painted china plaques.
In the l999-2000 award series, musician Kurt Bestor, cinematographer
Reed Smoot, singer Diana Walker and visual artist Mary Black will be the
next Artist Award recipients.
The evening's program included musical selections by performers from
the Hale Center Theater in Orem. Brief scenes from two of Ruth and
Nathan Hales's nearly 80 original plays were included. Hales wrote a
play about Nauvoo when she and her husband served a mission there for
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Hale gave a brief recounting of her life, from growing up on a farm in
Granger to founding the first Hale theater, the Glendale Centre theatre
more than 50 years ago, to the modern state-of-the-art Hale Centre
Theatre in West Valley City.
"I wouldn't care if I died on stage," quipped the beloved theater
matriarch. "The cast might have a problem, but they could ad lib around
it." Hale told stories of the early days in Los Angeles, when she and
her late husband moved there during World War II. One of the plays they
wrote caught the interest of a Hollywood producer. He hired Loraine Day
and an up-coming, unknown actor by the name of Gregory Peck. "Never
heard of him," Ruth told the producer. The project was abandoned when
a couple of weeks later the producer died of a heart attack.