As I drive along highways A and F near Peninsula Players I see maple and oak trees anxious to show their fall colors. Seeing the warm reds and bright orange I am reminded, to all there is a season. This week has been a sad one for the Players family; long time Player Jeannette Leahy died Aug. 18 in Skokie, Illinois.
Jeannette performed more than 70 roles with the Players from 1960-1993. The exact number is unknown as our archive files are missing programs from some decades.
Her first play was “Two for the Seesaw,” and her last appearance on the Players’ stage was in 1993’s production of “Out of Order.” Over the decades patrons may recall her performances in “Man of La Mancha,” “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Plaza Suite,” “A Shot in the Dark,” “My Fair Lady,” “Morning’s at Seven,” “Equus,” “Becket,” “Angel Street,” “Madwoman of Chaillot” or any of numerous others.
When I joined the Players in 1991 and got to work with Jeannette on “Lend Me a Tenor,” I was immediately smitten with this grand lady of arts and entertainment. She had charm, comic timing and a glowing stage presence, which shone in such roles as Dotty in “Noises Off” and Judith Bliss in “Hay Fever.”
She was a vivacious, gracious and talented performer who worked in almost every aspect of show business from stage and television to radio. Off stage, Jeannette pursed arts in clay, stone and painted with acrylics, oils and pastels.
Diving into our archived programs from the 1960s, I learned she began acting in high school in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, started her professional career writing the radio serial “Double Trouble” and, like our founder Caroline Fisher, worked as a photographer’s model in Chicago.
Jeannette was voted “First Lady of Indiana TV” and was awarded an “Emmy” as outstanding interviewer of Indiana TV in Indianapolis, where she wrote and conducted many of her own programs.
Players company members deemed her one of the “Iron Horse Players” at the Players 65th anniversary party, along with Maggie Magerstadt , James B. McKenzie and Jean Sincere, all pioneers at the Players who blazed a trail for many to follow.