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John Myhers, 70; Director, Actor, Screenplay Writer

May 30, 1992|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

John Myhers, a musical comedy actor and director who was married to actress Joan Benedict, has died. He was 70.

Myhers died Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of pneumonia, his daughter, Claudia Myhers, said Friday.

The veteran entertainer, who wrote screenplays and taught screenwriting, had completed a book called "The Myhers' Method," which is scheduled for publication next fall.

One of Myhers' best-known roles was as Capt. Von Trapp in the national touring version of "The Sound of Music." During four years of performances opposite Florence Henderson, he managed to write six screenplays. And after the tour, Myhers condensed the show's script for a Las Vegas version.

He worked for some time in Las Vegas, condensing other popular musicals such as "South Pacific" and "The Music Man."

Soviet director Sergei M. Eisenstein "said that there were five elements in a story--theme, story, plot, prophecy and resolution," Myhers told Times entertainment writer Charles Champlin in 1975. "In condensing a musical, you simply have to be sure that the five elements are preserved."

Born in Eau Claire, Wis., Myhers began singing at the age of 12 and won several leading roles in the St. Paul Civic Opera during his student years at McPhail School of Music in St. Paul, Minn.

He served in the armed forces in Italy during World War II and stayed in Rome for 11 years after the war. He studied at the American Academy and earned a doctoral degree in literature from the University of Rome.

Myhers met Benedict when they appeared on an Italian-language quiz show in the United States.

He performed leading roles in the Broadway shows "Kiss Me Kate," "The Golden Fleecing," and "The Good Soup," and played opposite Katharine Hepburn in a Stratford, Conn., production of "Anthony and Cleopatra."

In Los Angeles, Myhers appeared opposite Jack Lemmon in "Idiot's Delight" at the Ahmanson Theater and opposite Charlton Heston in "A Man for All Seasons" at the Valley Music Theater.

Myhers' film credits as a character actor include "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," "1776," and seven Disney films, including "The Shaggy D.A." His TV appearances included "Love American Style," "Hogan's Heroes," "Get Smart," the "Jack Paar Show" and the "Steve Allen Show."

He directed more than 50 musicals and stage plays.

Survivors include his wife and daughter.

Memorial services are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Old North Church, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

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