Edwin Lester, the undisputed doyen of the West Coast stage and the founder and longtime director of Los Angeles' Civic Light Opera, has died. He was 95.
Lester died Thursday night of cardiac arrest at his Beverly Hills home. He had been in failing health for several months.
Four of Lester's more than nine decades were spent bringing to Los Angeles and then San Francisco thousands of the most melodious hours in the American musical theater.
Between 1938 and 1977, when he retired, he proffered a minimum of four musicals a year in settings ranging from a church stage, where scenery couldn't be hung or lighting set until after the final singing of the doxology, to the Music Center, where Lester's productions helped ensure the financial stability of the then-infant cultural arena.
In those 40 years, the Civic Light Opera had offered more than 160 productions, 90 of them produced by Lester.
Lester, a longtime widower who was childless, is survived by a cousin, Mary Greenebaum. At Lester's insistence, there will be no services. The family has requested that any memorial contributions be made to the Actors' Fund.