Sylvia Peyser, children’s theater maven, documaker and wife of late pioneering TV director John Peyser, died Friday May 7 in Los Angeles of natural causes. She was 86.

Allentown, Pa., native attended the Warwick School of Theater in Philadelphia and Lehigh U. She later became known for her work in children’s theater through her own Sylvia Mellner School of Theater.

During World War II, she became a radio script writer for the Office of War Information and for a time was located in New York City before being transferred to San Francisco, where she met her future husband. The couple moved back to New York for a time and there she organized a company of Equity stage actors who entertained hospitalized children throughout the city.

After the war, and with their son in tow, they moved to Los Angeles where John Peyser continued his career in television and film. Their work took them to Spain for a number of years in the 1960s and early ’70s, where Sylvia wrote and directed several documentary films about Spain.

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She is survived by her son, mechanical special effects specialist John Peyser; a sister, Shirley; John’s wife Kathy; four nieces including actress Penny Peyser; and three nephews.