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Irwin Parnes; Impresario Who Brought Diversity to the Stage

Irwin Parnes, 76, impresario known for pioneering the staging of multicultural, multiethnic productions. Parnes was the longtime managing director of the International Concerts Exchange Foundation. From 1947 to 1992, Parnes presented 45 International Folk Dance Festivals in Los Angeles’ old Philharmonic Auditorium, Shrine Auditorium and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. He called on major talents to help him spread music and song through culturally diverse Southern California, hiring such festival narrators as Greer Garson, Ginger Rogers, Edward Asner, Edward G. Robinson, Eartha Kitt and Ruby Keeler. With his wife, Joy, Parnes wrote an autobiography of his adventures, “Bull by the Horns.” In 1991, he drew together the jokes and stories of his long life with entertainers to present the show “Jokes, Kosher & Traif” at the Westwood Playhouse. On Monday in Beverly Hills of a heart attack.


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