Celia Silverman, actress and cofounder of the Theater of the Living Arts in Philadelphia, which was vital to the South Street renaissance there and was home to numerous higher-profile thesps, died of heart failure April 30 in Philly. She was 90.
Monaca, Pa., native attended Marjorie Webster College and graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York in 1933. During the 1930s, she produced and performed a radio show for children in Atlantic City.
She moved to Elkins Park, Pa., in 1949, served as the president of the Cheltenham Art Center in the 1950s and studied acting with Jasper Deeter, founder of Philadelphia’s Hedgerow Theater. That ensemble disbanded in 1956, leaving a void in the local theater scene. Silverman, with husband Louis Silverman and a group of friends, answered by founding the Theater of the Living Arts in the early ’60s.
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The theater’s acting ensemble, the Southwark Company, included Ron Liebman, Sally Kirkland, Estelle Parsons, Lois Smith and M. Emmet Walsh. Later Judd Hirsh, Morgan Freeman and other appeared in its productions. The the company disbanded in 1971.
Silverman was pre-deceased by her husband in 1992. She is survived by a son, Leon; daughter-in-law Jan Silverman, a longtime stage director and acting teacher at Temple U.; daughter Caroljean Kier; and three grandchildren.