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Crane Jackson, 69; Producer Began Actors Workshop

April 30, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

Crane Jackson, an actor and producer who founded Theater Rapport, a 50-seat actors workshop and performance center in Los Angeles, has died at the age of 69.

Jackson died April 17 in Los Angeles of a heart attack.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised in Florida, where he graduated from the University of Miami, Jackson moved to Hollywood in 1967 and began his workshop theater the next year.

He soon converted a bowling alley on South Vermont Avenue into a theater and launched what he called "The Uncommon Theater Series," beginning with a production of "Moby Dick Rehearsed."

Shortly after Jackson won a waiver from the Actors' Equity Assn. in 1972 to charge admission, Times critic Dan Sullivan wrote of a play about Emily Dickinson: "There is merit here but there is also the uneven quality we have come to associate with performance at the workshop level." The play, "Come Slowly Eden," earned three Drama Critics Awards.

When Jackson started his theater, which had several locations over the years, Actors' Equity excused small theaters from union membership only if they limited productions to nine performances and charged no admission.

In May 1972, he helped prevent union plans to scrap workshop waivers entirely.

He produced more than 125 plays over 30 years.

As an actor, Jackson had small roles in plays in New York and in such films as "The Young Savages" and "W.C. Fields and Me."

Under his real name, David Dreis, he edited and published a quarterly book review magazine called Rapport.

He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Marta Dreis.

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