Estelle Busch, 91; L.A. Actress Helped Found Equity-Waiver Theaters

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Estelle Busch, 91, executive director of the Synthaxis Theatre Company in North Hollywood and a founder of the Equity-waiver theater movement, has died.

Busch died of natural causes March 15, said her son, Mark.

Busch was born Aug. 30, 1914, in New York to Russian immigrants. She first appeared on stage at age 8 in a Yiddish production. She apprenticed with New York City's Group Theater and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In 1943 she and her husband, Ben Busch, moved to Los Angeles, where she continued working in theater and over the years had bit parts on television.

In the 1960s she helped establish 99-seat Equity-waiver theaters in L.A.

For the last 28 years, Busch staged plays focused on women's and children's issues for the nonprofit, community-outreach Synthaxis in the NoHo arts district.

She often took her one-woman shows and staged readings to public schools under a program funded by the city.

"We feel that theater is a very vital instrument, not only of entertainment, but of education," Busch told The Times in 1996. "We are very much involved, not only creating the future audiences for theater, but to bring messages. And it exposes children to an art form."

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