Don Snell, Who Toured Widely as Noël Coward, Is Dead at 57

Obituaries   Don Snell, Who Toured Widely as Noël Coward, Is Dead at 57
Don Snell, who performed his one-man show about playwright and actor Noël Coward, A Private Spirit, at theatres across the United States, and who made his mark in the disparate worlds of both acting and luggage design, died Dec. 2 after a long illness, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was 57.

In A Private Spirit—A Celebration of the Music & Wit of Noel Coward, Mr. Snell played the English bon vivant. The show came out of a tribute to Coward that director Robert Schrock, the creator of the Off-Broadway hit Naked Boys Singing, put together for the Friends of the USC Library. It played a five-week run at the Tiffany Theatre in L.A. in 2000.

Mr. Snell was also active in film and television, taking roles in "Erin Brokovich," "Traffic" and "The West Wing."

Had his acting career not blossomed, Mr. Snell's most notable legacy would probably have been the Jon Hart line of canvas luggage. The Texas native was running an awning and tent shop in Houston, and pursuing acting on the side, when he decided to manufacture his own line of luggage. Drawing on the sewing skills he picked up in costume design studies at Trinity University, he created a series of canvas bags that didn't require snaps or clasps.

The name for the line came from a heart-shaped key chain Mr. Snell owned. He wanted to call it Don Hart, after himself, but decided Jon Hart sounded better. He sold the company in the late 1980s when his acting prospects began to improve.

Don Snell was born in Houston. He is survived by his partner, Andrew Campbell; his father, five brothers and two sisters.

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