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Theatrical Specialist Peter Foy Dies At 79

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Peter Foy, a specialist in theatrical effects who enabled Peter Pan to fly across the stage and launched "The Flying Nun" skyward, has died at 79.

Foy, who died Feb. 17 of a heart attack in Las Vegas, where he lived, founded Flying by Foy, a 48-year-old theatrical flying effects company that sent Mary Martin, Sandy Duncan and Cathy Rigby soaring across stages in the role of Peter Pan.

Foy developed elaborate systems of thin wires, harnesses and pulleys to make flying look easy on stage and in television, movies and even the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympics.

He sent aloft such stars as Dean Martin, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Lucille Ball and Jerry Lewis. He enabled Sally Field to fly on television's "The Flying Nun," Garth Brooks at a concert at Texas Stadium, Nadia Comaneci over Times Square, and Liberace with his piano.

The London-born Foy began his career as a child actor and took his first onstage flight as a teenager in the play "Where the Rainbow Ends."

He later went to work for the premier theatrical flying company in Britain, Kirby's Flying Ballets, which sent him to New York in 1950 for a Broadway production of "Peter Pan," starring Jean Arthur as Peter Pan and Boris Karloff as Captain Hook.

He returned to the United States in 1954 to help Mary Martin fly in "Peter Pan." At her urging, Foy invented a device that allowed movement across the stage and carried actors higher, faster and more smoothly than before.

His Broadway credits also included "The Lion King," "Angels in America" and "Aida." He also worked on the 1966 movie "Fantastic Voyage," which won an Oscar for special effects; the Ice Capades; and numerous rock extravaganzas, operas and ballets.

Foy is survived by his wife, Barbara; a sister; a son; a daughter; and two grandchildren.