Helon Blount Kaldenberg, of Broadway's Happy Fella and Follies, Dead at 76

Obituaries   Helon Blount Kaldenberg, of Broadway's Happy Fella and Follies, Dead at 76
Helon Blount Kaldenberg, a Broadway actress who appeared in The Most Happy Fella, Woman of the Year and Follies, died March 7 after a long illness. She was 76.

The Texas native appeared professionally as Helon Blount, and got to sing the Broadway Lone Star anthem "Big D" (about Dallas) in the original production of Frank Loesser's The Most Happy Fella. She was an understudy for the role of Cleo, who belted the song. She would take over the role from Susan Johnson during the Broadway run. Some 40 years later, Ms. Blount returned to Loesser's work, playing Granny Briggs is a revised version of Greenwillow, in 1997 in Sarasota, FL.

Ms. Blount was born to Alma and R.E. "Boodie" Blount in Big Spring, TX, according to a notice in the Austin American-Statesman. As a student in the fine arts and music school at the University of Texas she sang in the chorus of the Dallas State Fair Musicals for two summers and then, armed with a Master's Degree in Voice Pedagogy, went to New York City.

A life on Broadway, in tours and in stock productions around the country followed. Her husband, Keith Kaldenberg, whom she met as a member of the cast of Most Happy Fella, preceded her in death.

Ms. Blount's Broadway credits included playing Dee Dee West in the original Follies (understudying the roles of Hattie and Stella); Do I Hear a Waltz?; Musical Chairs; and The Fig Leaves Are Falling. In Kander and Ebb's Woman of the Year she played the Chairperson who introduces Lauren Bacall's Tess Harding at the top of the show, and a cleaning lady who sang backup during Bacall's "I Wrote the Book" song.

Ms. Blount also appeared in the Off-Broadway musical Riverwind. Memorial services will be held at University Christian Church on March 10 at 2 PM.

Ms. Blount Kaldenberg is survived by her daughter, Kim Kaldenberg of New York City; and her brother R.E. Peppy Blount and wife, Eva Jean of Longview; her sister-in-law, Carol and David Roemer of Des Moines, Iowa, and several nieces and nephews, and her devoted friend, Helen Ann McWhorter, of Stephenville, TX.

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