Editorial: Stand and applaud 'The Colonel'

April 28, 2004

How does one write about the death of Eben Henson?

As a play review?

"The curtain fell for the final time Sunday on 'The Colonel,' the longest-running, most successful play in the history of Danville's Pioneer Playhouse. Audience members were stunned and saddened by news that the play that had entertained, enlightened and inspired them for more than half a century had finally come to an end.

"Some audience members spoke tearfully of the boundless energy and enthusiasm and tenacity of Eben Henson, who played the leading role in 'The Colonel' during its long and productive run. Others talked of how he had defied all odds to build, literally with his bare hands, a summer theater in his hometown that would gain national renown. ..."

As an editorial tribute to a far-sighted political leader?

"Eben Henson, who passed away Sunday, was responsible for the passage of the 1 percent city payroll tax during his brief stint as mayor of Danville from 1967 to 1969. Although the tax hike resulted in his defeat in the next election, it proved to be a boon for the city for many years to come because it brought in increasing amounts of revenue from a growing industrial base. To this day, much of the tax revenue comes from people who don't live in Danville, providing a windfall to the local government and to Danville residents. ... "


As an item in the show-biz publication "Variety"?

"Eben Henson, founder of a summer theater in Danville, Ky., that boosted the careers of hundreds of young actors, including John Travolta, Jim Varney, Lee Majors and Bo Hopkins, passed away Sunday in his hometown. Henson produced more than 300 plays at his Pioneer Playhouse, where he provided invaluable experience and exposure to several generations of young actors.

"He and his wife, Charlotte, also made a more personal contribution to the arts and entertainment business by parenting four successful artists themselves: a graphic artist, a filmmaker, a standup comic, and a children's book author and novelist. ..."

But what words can capture the life of such a remarkable, interesting person?

Perhaps, it's best just to stand and applaud.

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