Old Globe's Craig Noel dies at 94

Received National Medal of the Arts in 2007

Craig Noel, a founding director of the Old Globe theater in San Diego, died of natural causes April 3 at his home in Mission Hills, Calif. He was 94.

Noel directed more than 200 works and produced about 270 shows at the Old Globe, where he helped send nine eventual Tony Award-winning shows to Broadway. Actors with whom Noel worked and went on to stardom include Kelsey Grammer, Marion Ross and David Ogden Stiers.

Noel joined the cast of "The Distaff Side" at the Old Globe in 1937 as a 22-year-old from New Mexico and ended up putting in 70 years with the theater, becoming artistic director in 1949.

The Old Globe is now one the nation's 10 biggest regional theaters.

In 2007, Noel was given the National Medal of the Arts for his "decades of leadership as a pillar of the American theater" by President George W. Bush. The medal is the government's highest honor for artists and arts patrons.

As a director, one of Noel's signature productions was "Mister Roberts," first staged in 1953. He also served as a junior director alongside Orson Welles at Fox shortly after World War II.

Old Globe productions that made their way to Broadway include Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's "Into the Woods," August Wilson's "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," "The Piano Lesson" and "Two Trains Running" and Neil Simon's "Rumors" and "Jake's Women."

Noel, who never married, has no immediate survivors. A memorial service is pending at the Old Globe.
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