Dorothy Silver

Dorothy Silver

Dorothy Silver, who has been described as Cleveland’s first lady of theater and the grande dame of Cleveland theater, has died. She was 92.

Silver was an actor and director who was involved in theater for more than 70 years and acted well into her 80s.

She performed on small stages and big screens, appearing in films such as “Love & Other Drugs,” “Old Fashioned” and “The Shawshank Redemption.”

On Twitter, the Cleveland Play House wrote: “CPH joins the Northeast Ohio theatre community and mourns the loss of Dorothy Silver, the grande dame of Cleveland Theatre. We are eternally grateful for her contributions to the arts and for sharing her gifts with generations of theatregoers.”

A winner of the Cleveland Arts Prize, Silver was involved with Karamu House for 21 years as an actor to an assistant director to a resident guest director.

Silver was the cultural arts director at the former Jewish Community Center on Mayfield Road in Cleveland Heights for 12 years. Halle Theatre operated out of that building and when she retired, the Halle Theatre’s annual new play competition was named for her.

Silver performed readings of Jewish drama throughout the United States, Israel, Europe and the former Soviet Union, according to the Cleveland Arts Prize website.

Silver’s husband, Reuben, died at age 88 in 2014. The Silvers, who were married in 1949, acted together and collaborated on many plays. They were also administrators, teachers and mentors, touching all facets of the arts community since arriving in Cleveland in 1955.

Bob Abelman, the Cleveland Jewish News’ award-winning critic who has followed her career, said, "While audience members will remember Dorothy as one of the most gifted and engaging actors to ever step onto a Cleveland stage – blessed with abundant talent that gave way to what appeared to be effortless performance – those of us who were fortunate enough to share that stage will fondly remember Dorothy as a generous castmate, an intuitive and giving mentor, and the best prepared and hardest-working person in the room. Off stage, she became a caring, invested foster mother to many, which is perhaps her greatest legacy.”

Silver was born Dorothy Greenbaum.

The Silvers lived in the same home in Cleveland Heights for 55 years before moving to Shaker Heights in 2010.

The Silvers have three sons, Paul, Daniel and Joshua.

This is a developing story.

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