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Susan Douglas Rubes, founder of Young People's Theatre, dead at 87

TORONTO - Susan Douglas Rubes, stage and screen actress and founder of Young People's Theatre in Toronto, has died.

She was 87.

Colleagues remembered her as a pioneer in theatre for young audiences.

"We are so grateful for the life and work of Susan Rubes," Allen MacInnis, YPT artistic director, said Thursday in a statement.

"I feel truly blessed to have had her advice and presence since I was appointed to this incredible job. YPT thrives today because it has the indomitable spirit of Susan in its DNA."

Rubes passed away Wednesday in Toronto.

Born Zuzka Zenta in Vienna, Austria, Rubes moved with her family to Czechoslovakia and France before eventually immigrating to New York in 1940.

After graduating high school, she began a career spanning radio, television, theatre and film. That included seven films and hundreds of television shows, including 10 years on the soap opera "The Guiding Light."

Rubes met the love of her life, actor and singer Jan Rubes, while filming "Forbidden Journey" in Montreal in 1950. The couple married that year, had three sons and moved to Toronto from New York in 1959. They were together until Jan's death in 2009.

Rubes founded Young People's Theatre in 1966 with an eye to developing Canadian plays that could stand alongside the best from around the world.

She was often quoted as saying "Only the best is good enough for children," according to a YPT release.

Rubes remained artistic director of Young People's Theatre until 1980, later becoming head of radio drama at CBC from 1982 to 1986 and president of the Family Channel from 1987 to 1989.

Rubes was awarded the Order of Canada in 1975.


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