Gil Cates, 77
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Notable Deaths of 2011: Theater and Comedy

Cates, the founder and producing director of the Geffen Playhouse, died in November after collapsing in a UCLA parking lot. During his tenure at the Geffen, he directed and oversaw works by major playwrights as well as a number of world premiere productions. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
A legendary Broadway writer and director, Laurents died in May after a short illness. His many book-writing credits include “Gypsy” and “West Side Story.” (William Morris Endeavor / European Pressphoto Agency)
The former Czech leader passed away in December following a lengthy illness. Havel was a playwright whose dramas often satirized life behind the Iron Curtain. He eventually became a key political force for the toppling of Communism in Czechoslovakia. (Diether Endlicher / Associated Press)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright died in March from complications of pneumonia. His plays include “Burn This,” “Talley’s Folly” and “Fifth of July.” (Associated Press)
The songwriter died in August from cardiopulmonary failure. Leiber, above left, and his partner Mike Stoller, right, penned a number of hit pop songs. The duo eventually gained fame on Broadway for the 1995 hit “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” a revue dedicated to their music. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
The playwright died in January after a battle with lung cancer. He wrote more than 30 plays during his long career, many of which were performed off-Broadway and in regional theaters. He was the father of actress Laura Linney. (Stan Honda / Los Angeles Times Archives)
A founder and director of New York’s La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Stewart died in January after an extended illness. During her long career, she oversaw the highly regarded stage company, winning an honorary Tony Award in 2006. (Marcia Keegan / Associated Press)
The celebrated theater actress, who died in June, was one of the reigning veterans of the British stage. She won a Tony in 1990 for her performance in “Lettice and Lovage,” opposite Maggie Smith. (PBS)
The stand-up comic died in November after suffering a stroke the month before. He began his comedy career in the Boston area before branching out to radio and television appearances, including this year’s Comedy Central roast of Charlie Sheen(Scott Gries / Getty Images)