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Actress Nan Martin's influence on South Coast Rep

March 4, 2010 |  1:36 pm

Nan Martin, a versatile character actress who appeared on film, TV and stage for decades, died Thursday at her home in Malibu from complications of emphysema. She was 82.

Nan Perhaps best known for playing Mrs. Ben Patimkin in the 1969 film "Goodbye, Columbus," alongside Jack Klugman, Ali McGraw and Richard Benjamin, Martin became a prominent figure in regional theater circles.

Martin was a member of the first advisory board of the Theatre Communications Group, the national service organization for American not-for-profit theater, when it began in 1961.

A year later, while touring in a play, Martin visited drama students at what was then San Francisco State College, where she spoke passionately about the regional theater movement and encouraged students to start their own theaters.

Two of the students who heard her speak were Martin Benson and David Emmes, who co-founded Orange County’s South Coast Repertory in 1964.

"We were mightily inspired by her talk," said Benson. "It really helped push David and I on to [say], ‘Let’s go and do it.’ "

-- Dennis McLellan

Photo: Nan Martin in 1967.