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Gordon Davidson, Art Director Of The Mark Taper Forum, Dies At 83

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — Gordon Davidson, the longtime artistic director of the Mark Taper Forum and a major figure in the regional theater movement, died on Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 83.

According to the New York Times, Davidson's wife Judi said he collapsed during a family dinner. A cause of death has not been disclosed.

Davidson is best known for his long tenure at the Mark Taper Forum, a position he assumed in 1967. Davidson helped to energize the theater scene in Los Angeles, debuting socially conscious and challenging plays at the Mark Taper that included “In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine,” “The Shadow Box,” “Children of a Lesser God” and Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America.”

In 1977, he won a Tony Award for his direction of "The Shadow Box."

In addition to his role at the Taper, Davidson was the Producing Director of the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre for 15 years, and the Artistic Director of the inaugural season (2004-2005) at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

Davidson was appointed to the National Council on the Arts by President Clinton and was a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He served as president of Theatre Communications Group and the League of Resident Theatres, and was a board member of several arts organizations including the Non-Traditional Casting Project.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Davidson graduated with a bachelor’s in Drama from Cornell and then earned a master's degree at Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Following graduation, he signed on as a stage manager the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Conn. He moved to Los Angeles in 1964 to work with John Houseman on a production of King Lear.

"Gordon Davidson was one of the most renowned and respected artistic directors in the regional theatre, in large part because he was one of the original founders of the entire concept. He led Center Theatre Group for 38 years and produced one of the broadest arrays of plays, particularly new plays, of any theatre in the country. Without his prolific vision for Center Theatre Group 50 years ago, the theatrical landscape in Los Angeles, and the country, would be very different. He remains one of theatre's great leaders and I was proud to call him a mentor, friend, and colleague." said Michael Ritchie, Center Theatre Group's Artistic Director in a statement announcing Davidson's passing.

He is survived by his wife, Judi; their children, Adam and Rachel; and five granddaughters. – Staff Writers