Aviva Crane, Co-Founder of Chicago's Jeff Awards, Is Dead at 76

Obituaries   Aviva Crane, Co-Founder of Chicago's Jeff Awards, Is Dead at 76
Aviva Crane, a Chicago-area actress who co-founded the city's pre-eminent annual theatre honors, the Joseph Jefferson Awards, died Died Dec. 12 after a short illness. She was 76.

The Jeffs, as they are called for short, acknowledge greatness in Chicago theatre and have been handed out every year since 1969. The awards were born in 1968 when Mrs. Crane teamed up with fellow actors Felix Shuman, Guy Barile and June Travis Friedlob on the original organizing committee that established the Jeff Awards, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The first annual Jeff Awards ceremony was held in the Guildhall of the Ambassador West Hotel on October 6, 1969.

Mrs. Crane herself was nominated for a Jeff in 1970 for her performance in the Goodman Theatre production of Harold Pinter's Tea Party.

Raised July 22, 1930, to Irwin and Ruth Stein on the Near South Side of Chicago, Aviva Crane attended the Goodman School of Drama. Her career stretched from the 1960s to the end of the 1980s, and included roles in Bleacher Bums, Sheer Madness and plays by Shakespeare and Chekhov. She acted opposite such players as Jack Palance, Ray Milland and Gordon MacRae.

"My mother went through life like a hurricane," her son Jonathan Crane told the Sun-Times. "She has a working-class side but there also was the grand dame side. She loved to sweep into a room and call everyone 'darling'." Her husband of 40 years, Gerald Crane, died in 1993. In addition to her son, Mrs. Crane is survived by her father, Irwin Stein; another son, Richard; two daughters-in-law, Linda Hall and Hana Mareckova; and three grandchildren, Alexandra, Nicholas and Alyssa.

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