Cleveland Play House Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon Announced 9/24

The Women's Committee of The Cleveland Play House invites alumni, friends and the public to attend the first Annual "Hall of Fame" Luncheon at 12:00 pm on Friday, September 24, 2010 at Stages Restaurant. Selected by the Heritage Council of The Cleveland Play House, the Hall of Fame Class of 2010 to be inducted includes Margaret Hamilton, Elizabeth Flory Kelly, Shirley Oberlin, Artha Woods and Kirk Willis. A special presentation will also be made for long-time staff member of the Play House, Elijah Ford, who will be honored as the first recipient of the "Heritage" Award. Acclaimed actor and Hall of Fame member Ed Asner is this year's Guest of Honor. For tickets and information, call Betty Fredman at (440) 247-1473 or go online at

This year, for the very first time, The Play House will formally induct the new Hall of Fame members at this luncheon celebration. Hall of Fame members include Play House founders, long-time board members, artists, staff members, and donors, all of whom have made meaningful contributions to the Play House since its founding in 1915.

2010 Hall of Fame Inductees:

Margaret Hamilton - In her professional career, she appeared as an actor in over 75 roles on stage and 80 roles on screen. She is most known for the roles of Miss Gulch and The Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz. Miss Hamilton's first role at The Cleveland Play House was in 1924 and was invited to join The Acting Company full time in 1927. She appeared in 17 productions during her 3 seasons at The Cleveland Play House and she was the first National Alumni Chairman for The Cleveland Play House. In 1967, she participated in a national fund raising campaign with Dom DeLuise, Jerome Lawrence, Robert E. Lee and Jack Weston. Ms. Hamilton was an honorary Trustee of The Play House, and was the recipient of the 1977 State of Ohio Governor's Award.

Elizabeth Flory Kelly - Daughter of one of the major forces behind the creation of The Play House, Kelly's association with the theatre dates back to 1935 and her work with "Bessie" Mullin, founder of the Curtain Pullers theatre program. She served as both an apprentice and professional in The Play House Acting Company and assisted in The Children's Theatre program. She was a longtime member of the Board of Trustees, the Women's Committee and in later years the Advisory Council.

Shirley Oberlin - After decades as the unofficial Play House hostess, Shirley became active with The Cleveland Play House Women's Committee in 1991. She is on their Board and has provided Saturday Night Suppers for the cast and crew, and obtained food for the new casts at the Meet and Greets. Shirley was Co-Chairman for the Women's Committee sponsored Shaw Festival tours. Shirley continues today as the contact person for the former Company members as well as other actors and crew members.

Kirk Willis - A mainstay of the company for nearly four decades, Kirk Willis came in as a student in 1929. He could be either "a Prince Hamlet or an attendant lord to swell a scene or two" in at least 200 productions including several world premiers. The measure of his attainment is the confidence Frederick McConnell and K. Elmo Lowe showed in 1940 by giving him a directing assignment. He continued to act as his directing assignments increased and was the Resident Director of The Play House summer program at the Chautauqua Institution.

Artha Woods - She served The Cleveland Play House as a valued counselor and friend for more than 30 years. As a Cleveland City Council member from 1977 to 1989, her ward included The Cleveland Play House. Before, during and after her Play House Board tenure, she advanced our liaison with the Fairfax neighborhood and provided guidance in governmental relations during the development of The Cleveland Play House expansion into the Sears Building and Bolton Theatre.

Heritage Award

Elijah Ford - In 1965, Elijah Ford was hired to manage the parking lot at the Drury Theatre on 86th Street. One year later he was made Assistant Superintendent of buildings which included the 77th Street, Drury and Brooks theatres. Four years later he became Superintendent and he still holds that position today. An example of his dedication was on display when, in the 1968 riots, the National Guard was posted on the roof of the Drury to monitor the area and Elijah joined them to be sure The Cleveland Play House would be safe.

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