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Deaths Of Two Actors Bring Sadness To Chicago Theater Community

(CBS) -- It's a dark weekend for Chicago's theater community, following the deaths of two prominent actors just hours apart in separate accidents.

The shock is being felt at theater companies big and small, in the city and in the suburbs.

Veteran Chicago stage and television actress Molly Glynn died Saturday morning, one day after she was struck by a falling tree during storms in the Erickson Woods Forest Preserve, in suburban Northfield. Bernie Yvon died a short time later, when a tractor-trailer ran over his car as he drove to rehearsals in Munster, Ind.

Husband and fellow actor Joe Foust was bicycling with Glynn when the tree fell, about 3:45 p.m. Friday a half-mile north of Willow Road on the path, which winds through the Skokie Lagoons. Foust laments on Facebook, "I couldn't save her," calls it "the darkest day" of his life and writes, "Things will never be the same."

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, more than 2,200 people had left messages of condolence and support.

Police in Munster said that Yvon was southbound on Calumet Avenue, waiting to make a left turn at 11:05 a.m. Saturday, when a northbound semi-trailer truck ran over and came to rest on his car.

Not atypical of the reaction was that at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, which halted technical rehearsals for "King Lear" when they learned of the deaths. Actor Lance Baker wrote on Facebook that "a large dark cloud hovers over a great many of us involved in Chicago theatre."

Glynn was 46. On television she had roles on the series "Chicago Fire," "Boss" and "Early Edition." But she was a regular on the Chicago theater scene, with at least 17 roles since 2005 for such companies as Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Next, Northlight and Writers theaters, where she was most recently in the cast of the national premiere of "The Dance of Death."

"She was a loving mother and wife and everyone who met her fell in love with her," Michael Halberstam, Writers Theatre artistic director, said in a statement. "It is an incalculable loss to the Chicago theatre community, particularly as she was in the process of emerging as one of the city's major players. She possessed a rare combination of talent, heart and beauty in all aspects of her life."

The 50-year-old Yvon was a fixture in Chicago-area musicals. He had Broadway credits, including Harry Houdini in "Ragtime," and was a long-time understudy for Donny Osmond in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." He had a long-time association with the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre and was cast in Lyric Opera productions of "The Sound of Music" and "Showboat."

Theater at the Center artistic director William Pullinsi said Yvon called moments before the accident to say that he was running five minutes late for rehearsals. When he failed to arrive, they checked with police and discovered the accident, within walking distance of the theater.

Pullinsi said Yvon was a "triple threat" as an actor, singer and dancer, and continued to win challenging roles despite being 50. He said Yvon "never said anything mean about anyone" and was well-liked both here and in New York.

"He was just dancing around yesterday and now he's gone," Pullinsi said.

Pullinsi said Theatre at the Center would cancel the first two nights of previews for "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," which were to begin Thursday.

A memorial fundraising page has been set up for Glynn's family. Click here to learn more.

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