Wednesday, May 31, 2017

RIP Anne Kimbell

Wet Mountain Tribune

A celebration of life will be held later this summer for Anne Kimbell Relph who over the past quarter century founded and developed the Westcliffe Center for the Performing Arts in Westcliffe. Her efforts placed the Wet Mountain Valley on the map as a small-town center for the performing arts. Ms. Relph died May 16, 2017. She was 84. She was born June 28, 1932 in Louisiana to Andrew and Kathryn (Collins) Banks. At the age of three, she and her family moved to Hollywood, Calif., and a year later, at the age of four, she began her career in radio with “The Children’s Radio Workshop” in Los Angeles. At the age of 12, she joined the Screen Actors Guild, and worked continuously in film, television, and on the stage. Most notably, she played Rosalind Russell’s daughter in “Roughly Speaking,” and John Garfield’s sister in “Growing Up.” As an adult, she starred in Roger Corman’s first film, “Monster from the Ocean Floor,” and “Girls at Sea” with Guy Rolfe. Both films were quite popular when shown over the years at The Jones Theater in Westcliffe.

Ms. Relph’s real love was the stage, and she studied with Lee Strasberg in New York and starred on Broadway opposite Eddie Bracken in ‘The Seven Year Itch,” and in London in “Roar Like a Dove,” produced by Vivien Leigh. She also played opposite Marlon Brando in “Arms and the Man” in the eastern U.S. touring production. She first came to Colorado in the 1950s as leading lady at the famed Elitch Garden Theater in Denver, and at that time fell in love with the state. While on stage in London she met and married James F. Relph, a Foreign Service Officer. Together they lived in Switzerland, Germany, and in the African nations of Chad and Tunisia. She founded a school for women in the Republic of Chad, and developed cross-cultural programs for women in Tunisia. Ms. Relph loved traveling the world and was always open-minded about people from other cultures and religions. She had written several books about her life as a spouse of a Foreign Service Officer, After returning to California in the early 1980s, Ms. Relph served as an executive director of the University of Southern California’s Orange County Center. She founded the “Enterprising Woman” organization to provide education and support to women who were going into business for themselves. During that period, in 1992, she came to Colorado to buy a small horse ranch, and ended up purchasing the historic Jones Theater in Westcliffe which was going to be turned into a laundromat. Her goal was to preserve the theater for the Wet Mountain Valley, and she always considered Westcliffe to be her home, though she continued to return seasonally to Laguna Beach, Calif. Ms. Relph always enjoyed the friendly people who lived in Custer County, and was always gratified when people would be inspired by what they saw at the Jones Theater. She had a passion for keeping the arts alive in a small community, and especially loved seeing local kids pursue the arts. She was the founder of the Westcliffe Center for the Arts, and over the years served as its president, producer and artistic director up until the time of her death. She and her long-time partner, the late Tom Stagg, helped grow the WCPA and spearheaded the building of Studio 2 addition to the Jones Theater. She also was instrumental in developing the annual Shakespeare in the Park festival here. Ms. Relph held a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Virginia, and a master’s degree in women’s studies from George Washington University. She also spoke French and German. Ms. Relph is survived by a daughter, Christiane Kimbell Relph (and husband, Mark Maloney) of rural Westcliffe. Also surviving are a granddaughter, Kathryn Kimbell Potts, step granddaughters Cassidy Maloney and Hayley Maloney; and her beloved dachshund, Snoopy. A happy celebration of life will be held later this summer in Westcliffe. Those wishing may make memorial contributions to the Westcliffe Center for the Performing Arts at P.O. Box 790 in Westcliffe.

KIMBELL, Anne (Anne Banks)
Born: 6/28/1932, Louisiana, U.S.A.
Died: 5/16/2017, Westcliffe, Colorado, U.S.A.

Anne Kimbell’s westerns – actress:
Fort Osage – 1952 (Annie Winfield)
Wagons West – 1952 (Alice Lawrence)
The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (TV) – 1952 (Sally)
The Cisco Kid (TV) – 1952, 1953 (Alice Fleming, Jennifer Kellin)
The Adventures of Kit Carson (TV) – 1954, 1955 (Mary Jordan)

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