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Joan Diener
Born February 24, 1930(1930-02-24)
Columbus, Ohio
Died May 13, 2006 (aged 76)
New York City, New York
Occupation Stage actress, singer
Spouse(s) Albert Marre

Joan Diener (February 24, 1930 – May 13, 2006) was an American theatre actress and singer with a three-and-a-half-octave range.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Diener majored in psychology at Sarah Lawrence College and moonlighted as an actress while still a student. She made her Broadway debut in the 1948 revue Small Wonder, choreographed by Gower Champion and co-starring Tom Ewell, Alice Pearce and Jack Cassidy.

Diener met her future husband, theatre director Albert Marre, when she won the role of Lalume, the seductive wife of the Wazir, in Kismet, winning a Theatre World Award for her performance. They were married three years later and subsequently had a son Adam and a daughter Jennifer.

In 1958, Marre directed a production of At the Grand, a musical adaptation of Vicki Baum's 1930 novel Grand Hotel, in Los Angeles with Diener as an opera diva (a ballerina in the book) who falls in love with a charming, but larcenous, faux baron. (Although the show never reached Broadway, it was revamped drastically more than thirty years later and, directed by Tommy Tune, became the hit Grand Hotel.)

Mitch Leigh's Man of La Mancha also was directed by Marre, who cast his wife as Aldonza, the lusty serving wench envisioned by the deranged Don Quixote as virtuous Dulcinea. The critics were unanimous in praising her portrayal, but she inexplicably was overlooked by the Tony nominations committee. She went on to play the role in London and Amsterdam, in Paris and Brussels in French and, at age 62, in the 1992 Broadway revival starring Raul Julia, she took over in the same role she had created decades earlier. Pop singer Sheena Easton collapsed during one performance and proved unable to perform vocally in the extremely demanding role of Aldonza.

Diener reunited with Leigh as composer and Marre as director for both Cry for Us All (1970), which closed after nine performances, and Home Sweet Homer (1975), which never made it past opening night, despite the presence of Yul Brynner as Odysseus.

Diener's most famous stage roles went to others when they reached the screen - Dolores Gray in Kismet and Sophia Loren in La Mancha - and she never had a film career of her own. In addition to appearing on Broadway and in London's West End, she performed in nightclubs, such as the Blue Angel in Manhattan, early television (Androcles and the Lion on Omnibus), and in regional theatre.

Joan Diener died of complications from cancer in New York City, aged 76.

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