How do I know summer is almost here? Peninsula Players is approaching its opening night. Over the past couple weeks this grand lady of summer theaters has shaken off the winter doldrums, greeted returning company members, welcomed new ones and has given a final curtain call to some of its old friends.
Long-time Peninsula Players company member Jean Sincere died April 3 in Los Angeles. From 1939 to 1992 Jean performed more than 50 roles at the Players. The exact number is unknown as we are missing playbills in our archives.
Jean’s stage career at the Players began as an apprentice in 1939 when she shared the stage with Stacy Keach, Marden McBroom, Gertrude Needham and our founder Caroline Fisher. As an apprentice actor she worked in the box office and is credited as slave girl in “Salome” to Keach’s King Harod. Eventually she became a headliner; and handbills backstage bare her photo and name.
She tread the boards with steadfast Players’ Helen “Casey” Bradgon, Bill Munchow, Dennis Kennedy, Leo Lucker, Maggie Magerstadt, Jim McKenzie, Jeanne Bolan and Jeannette Leahy. The craft she honed and learned from the Fishers she passed on to younger performers at the Players such as Amy McKenzie, Pamela Gay and Patrick Walker.
I met Jean at the Players’ 65th birthday party and realized what a pistol she was. She had amazing energy and a zeal for life. We maintained an e-mail correspondence, and I would try to keep her up to date on the goings-on around the theater.
Jean’s acting career blossomed and spanned into film and television. Her final performance on the Players stage was in “Love Letters” with Bob Thompson in 1992. Jean was often cast as Bob’s wife, and patrons may recall the fireworks they created on stage in “Da,” “On Golden Pond,” “Painting Churches,” “Foxfire” and many, many more.
Jean was born in Mt. Vernon, New York, studied at the Goodman Theater and made her Broadway debut in 1941 in “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Her other Broadway credits include “Brigadoon,” “Wonderful Town,” “By the Beautiful Sea,” “Oh, Captain!” and George Abbott’s “Barefoot Boy With Cheek.” She served with the USO and toured the European Theatre of Operations in Ruth Gordon’s “Here Today” for nine months.
Her film credits include “Roxanne,” “The Incredibles,” “A Little Night Music” with Elizabeth Taylor, and recently she played the librarian on the FOX series “Glee.” Additional television credits include “Cagney & Lacey,” “St. Elsewhere,” “Empty Nest,” “Party of Five,” “Dallas,” “Ally McBeal,” “ER,” “Frasier” and many, many more.
Jean also brought international flair to the Players company. In the off-seasons she resided in Paris, France as well as in Vienna, Austria where she performed with the Vienna English Theatre. Jean married Charles C. Zambello in 1949, he preceded her in death in 1992. He was an actor/stage manager who became had of flight entertainment at TWA.
Jean is survived by her daughter, opera and theater director Francesca Zambello, of New York; her son, art and antique dealer, Larry Zambello, of New Mexico; and her grandson, Gabriel. Jean lived a vivacious and enthusiastic life. She had a great love of theater, opera and travel. Jean will be deeply missed by the entire Players family.
If you have fond memories of Jean’s performances, please tell us, and we will pass them along to her family. Jean shared her skills and talent with other artisans, something the Players continues to foster today through our internship program, nurturing the early career professionals and use of multi-generational casts.
In celebration of Jean’s life her family has established a memorial fund at Peninsula Players for the 2013 season to support an intern primarily interested in acting.
Perhaps you can join us this season for a show or two where members of our intern program work alongside seasoned professionals. Perhaps some young performer you see honing their craft this summer by the bay will someday be a headliner with their name and photo on the handbill, just like Jean.
To learn more about our season line-up, including a cowboy adventure, comedies, music, mystery and laughs visit our website at www.peninsulaplayers.com or call the box office at 920-868-3287. I look forward to seeing you by the bay, where the sun sets, the curtain rises and the stars shine.