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Actress, activist Gretchen Wyler dies

May 28, 2007 at 11:14 AM

CAMARILLO, Calif., May 28 (UPI) -- Gretchen Wyler, who left a successful Broadway career to work to protect animals, died in her Camarillo, Calif., home of breast cancer at the age of 75.

Wyler, who died Sunday, spent most of her adult life educating the public about animal right, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

A singer, dancer and actress in Broadway musicals such as "Guys and Dolls," "Silk Stockings," "Damn Yankees" and "Bye Bye Birdie," Wyler turned her eye toward animal protection in the late 1960s after visiting an animal shelter near her home in Warwick, N.Y.

"She was a person of remarkable vigor and vision," said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. "And it's the loss of a major figure in the modern animal protection movement."

Wyler founded the animal rights group the Ark Trust, which eventually merged with the Humane Society of the United States. She served as vice president of the organization's Hollywood office until retiring last year.

Wyler created the Genesis Awards, which recognize media and entertainment industries for incorporating animal protection themes into their work.

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