Love Endures: Singing Couple Reunites

Closeup3-Marion-239x300BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – She was from Fryburg, and he was from New York City, but a strong interest and talent in music brought them together when they met on Broadway in 1953 and they performed in “Wonderful Town.”

Theodore (Ted) Beniades and Marion June Lauer married the next year and celebrated a lifetime of singing and acting for the next 55 years in musicals, movies, television, and touring the country.

They were married on November 28, 1954, at St. Michael’s Church in Fryburg. Ted and Marion appeared together in four Broadway shows and also traveled throughout the country, appearing in summer stock.

Ted, 91, passed away last Friday at his Laurel Brooke Landing home in Brookville and Marion, 86, preceded him in death in September 2009.  Both were born in 1922 and each recorded a legendary career.  Marion won parts in seven Broadway shows, including leading lady in “Pajama Game,” many television commercials, and spent two years in “Guiding Light” as nurse Marion McHenry.  Ted was also known for his singing voice and was an actor in “Scarface”, “Serpico,” and “Next Man.”  Television was also a part of his career, as well as television commercials.

On Saturday, November 1, the two were reunited when Faller’s Funeral Home buried Ted next to the love of his life in the Venus Cemetery.

Gifted Singer, Broadway Performer, and a “Guiding Light’ Actress

Marion_stagedoorMarion, daughter of John (Jack) and Jessie Lauer, of Fryburg, was described as a gifted singer who sang in local churches at a young age.

After graduating in 1939 from Knox High School at the age of 16, she trained at Welch’s Business School in Oil City and did secretarial work to pay for her voice lessons. She also sang for the Belles Lettres Club of Oil City.

Facing the choice of a college education or pursuing a musical career, she chose music even though it meant that a young girl from the small town of Fryburg must leave home for the larger cities of Pittsburgh and New York City.

Marion studied music in Pittsburgh for three years and became the youngest soloist ever to sing for the Christian Science Church. In September of 1949, she moved to New York City where she worked several jobs to make ends meet and pay for voice lessons.

She also studied opera and formed a singing group, The Delovelys, who performed in New York and throughout a number of venues in Pennsylvania, including the Silver Fox Playhouse in St. Petersburg.

Her rich mezzo soprano voice and natural stage presence won her parts in seven Broadway shows, including “Texas, Lil Darlin,” “Wonderful Town,” “Fiorello,” “Maggie,” and “Fanny.” In her role as leading lady in “Pajama Game,” she sang the solo, “Hey There, You With The Stars In Your Eyes.”

Marion’s career wasn’t limited to the theater. She also appeared on television in a number of commercials and played the role of Nurse McHenry in the soap opera “Guiding Light” for two years.  “Tom Halverson” in the show met “sweet and pretty nurse Marion McHenry” at Cedars when he suffered a broken leg while trying to help Mike on another case.  The two eventually married on the show.

Ted’s Career Ends with Clarion Community Theater

ted-blogTed’s last performance in a rich career involved the Clarion Community Theater in 2010. Dawn Wells, Director of Marketing and Communications for WRC Senior Services and Laurelbrooke Landing, talked to him about her love of theater and realized she had a chance to get him involved in something he loved.

The Clarion Community Theater’s production of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None,” performed in 2010 at the Sawmill Theater in Cook Forest, needed a recorded voiceover that would play on a gramophone during the show, and Ted wouldn’t have to be at the live performances and practices.

“I told him what I was thinking, and he jumped on board,” said Wells.  “I took a script over and spent some time telling him about the show and his character. He was back in the game, and I could see the sparkle in his eyes. We spread sound equipment all over his living room and got to work, laughing, and joking amidst serious work.”

“He came out to watch the show twice, and we introduced him to the audience who responded with resounding cheers. I was so glad that we were able to think of a way to help him be the person he never stopped being – a star.”

The “star” was born in the Bronx, the oldest son of Greek immigrants Mary and Cleanthis Beniades who knew at the age of 10 he wanted to be an actor.

After serving in World War II, he studied acting at the prestigious Dramatic Workshop in New York with fellow students Marlon Brando, Walter Matthau, Tony Curtis, Rod Steiger, and Bea Arthur.

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He made his Broadway debut at age 29 in “Mister Roberts” with Henry Fonda. He performed in ten Broadway shows during the golden age of American musical theater, when Rodgers and Hammerstein reined with shows such as “South Pacific,” “The King and I”, “Carousel,” and ”Oklahoma.”

He was the veteran of twelve features films. He busted Al Pacino in the movie “Scarface,” got blown up in “The Next Man” with Sean Connery, and served Jack Lemmon a cocktail in “The Odd Couple.”

He was also a character actor in several TV series such as the “Jackie Gleason Show,” “Kojak,” “Eischied,” “The Andros Targets,” and the original “N.Y.P.D.”  Ted also appeared in many television commercials, including the Ragu character pictured above.

Photo Courtesy: Dawn Wells


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