Margaret E. Lynn, 81; Head of Army’s Music and Theater Program

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Margaret E. Lynn, 81, who directed the Army’s music and theater program to entertain troops and encourage soldiers and officers to develop their talent, died June 11 of cancer.

Lynn founded the program in 1962. By 1976, the Washington Post called it “the largest producing organization of music and theater in the world.” It staged more than 25,000 performances before 2.5 million people each year. The program is now called the Army Entertainment Program.

A former Radio City Music Hall Rockette and Broadway performer, Lynn became one of the first civilian “actress technicians” to work with troops overseas after World War II. Her commanding officer was the stage director Joshua Logan, with whom she worked on dozens of productions.

Unlike the USO, which brought in big-name talent, Lynn focused on developing home-grown entertainment, teaming up sergeants and colonels in productions such as “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and “The Fantasticks.” She encouraged the members of military families to participate in the shows, and aggressively commandeered unused military buildings to turn into theaters.

The Dallas native left the military in 1982 to form her own production company, Creative Consultants, which worked with Disney and other studios. She also was executive director of the American Theater Assn. in the 1980s.