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  • Born

    28 August 1927

  • Born In

    Mounds, Pulaski County, Illinois, United States

  • Died

    28 April 2019 (aged 91)

Elizabeth Josephine "Jo" Sullivan (August 28, 1927 – April 28, 2019) was an American actress and singer. She became a musical theatre star with her performance in the original production of The Most Happy Fella, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award in 1957.

Born in Mounds, Illinois, Sullivan played Polly Peachum in Marc Blitzstein's legendary English-language adaptation of The Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht off-Broadway in 1954.

She married Frank Loesser on April 29, 1959. They had two children, Hannah (1962–2007) and Emily (born 1965), who is also a singer-actress. She also appeared as herself in an "original special" on Broadway, called Let's Make An Opera (1950), which boasted music by Benjamin Britten, a libretto by Eric Crozier, musical direction by Norman Del Mar, and was directed by Marc Blitzstein.

In the summer of 1951 she played Dorothy Gale in The Muny's production of The Wizard of Oz, opposite Margaret Hamilton, who reprised her film role of the Wicked Witch of the West. In 1992, Loesser's daughter, Emily, played the same role at The Muny, marking the first time in The Muny's history that a role has been played by both mother and daughter. Loesser later reprised her role in the 1953 production at the Kansas City Starlight Theatre.

She also appeared on numerous recordings, such as Loesser by Loesser (alongside her daughter, Emily) as well as several albums for Ben Bagley's celebrated "Revisited" series on Painted Smiles Records (most notably Kurt Weill Revisited, Leonard Bernstein Revisited, and Frank Loesser Revisited.)

Since her husband's death in 1969, she managed his estate, which included guiding production of all of his musicals, including Guys and Dolls, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying and The Most Happy Fella.

Loesser died on April 28, 2019 at her home in New York City. She was 91.

Theatre credits

Sleepy Hollow (June 3, 1948 – June 12, 1948)
As the Girls Go (November 13, 1948 – January 14, 1950)
Let's Make an Opera (December 13, 1950 – December 16, 1950)
Wizard of Oz (Summer of 1951 at The Municipal Opera Association of St. Louis)
Wizard of Oz (Summer of 1953 at the Kansas City Starlight Theatre) Carousel(New york light opera) in 1954 with Chris Robinson(Billy),Barbara Cook(Carrie) and Don Backley(Mr Snow) 78 performances.
The Threepenny Opera (March 10, 1954 – May 30, 1954)
The Threepenny Opera (September 30, 1955 – December 17, 1961)
The Most Happy Fella (May 3, 1956 – December 14, 1957)
Guys & Dolls (E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall ~ summer stock 1974)
Perfectly Frank (November 30, 1980 – December 13, 1980)

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