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Anne Mirvish, sculptor and wife of late Toronto impresario, dies at 94

Anne and "Honest" Ed Mirvish are shown in a handout photo dated circa 1999. Anne Lazar Mirvish has died at age 94. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ HO, Mirvish Productions

TORONTO - Anne Mirvish, a Toronto sculptor who inspired her late husband "Honest" Ed Mirvish to expand his famed business from the store to the stage, has died.

Theatre company Mirvish Productions said she died Friday afternoon "peacefully at home surrounded by family."

She was 94.

"She's been frail for the last few years and not as active as she used to be," said John Karastamatis, Mirvish's director of communications, noting she suffered from arthritis.

"But her mind was very, very sharp. She kept up with everything going on.

"She lived a good, long life, and she was able to accomplish a lot."

A Hamilton native, Mirvish was "considered a major talent" in the arts world in her younger years, said Karastamatis.

"But she always said, when she got married her focus was on her family."

Still, she did have her works exhibited in galleries, and she kept a studio in the downtown Mirvish Village enclave, on the corner of Bloor and Bathurst streets.

That's the site of the family's landmark discount department store, Honest Ed's, which her husband opened in 1948.

"Ed always said he created Mirvish Village ... for Anne," said Karastamatis.

It was Anne's love of the arts that also inspired her husband to collect paintings and get into the theatre business.

In 1963, he purchased and saved from demolition Toronto's historic Royal Alexandra Theatre, and in '87 he launched Mirvish Productions, which is now billed as Canada's largest commercial theatre production company.

The company that's now run by son David Mirvish also owns the Princess of Wales theatre as well as the Ed Mirvish Theatre and the Panasonic Theatre.

"It was Anne that encouraged him to buy the Royal Alexandra Theatre and launch that part of his career," said Karastamatis.

"Both for her husband and her son, she was an inspiration. ... She was instrumental in all of the family's work."

She even once sang and acted onstage in a Christmas pantomime at the Royal Alexandra theatre, and was a fixture at opening nights of productions staged by Mirvish.

"She wouldn't miss a show," said Karastamatis.

Anne was married to Ed Mirvish for over 65 years until his death in 2007.

She is survived by son David Mirvish, his wife Audrey and their three children, and their eldest daughter's two young sons.

A funeral for Anne Mirvish is set for Monday at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.


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