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PASSINGS / Eric Blau

He helped create 'Jacques Brel'

February 26, 2009|From Times staff and wire reports

Eric Blau, 87, who helped bring the work of Belgian songwriter Jacques Brel to U.S. audiences through the musical revue "Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris," died Feb. 17 in New York City of pneumonia after a stroke.

Working with composer Mort Shuman, Blau translated a number of Brel's songs into English and fashioned a theatrical evening of his melancholy, sarcastic, sentimental and severely comic numbers. The production opened at the Village Gate in Manhattan in 1968 and was still going strong more than four years later. It played briefly on Broadway and has since been produced off-Broadway and in regional theater groups.

Blau was born Milton Eric Blau on June 1, 1921, in Bridgeport, Conn. He attended City College of New York but left before graduating. He served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Europe during World War II.

After the war, he made his living as a freelance writer and publicist. He was also a founder of a political journal, Masses and Mainstream, that supported communist ideology.

Although he wrote several books and created other off-Broadway shows, "Jacques Brel" remained his greatest achievement.

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news.obits@latimes.com

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