Joan Diener, star of 'Man of La Mancha,' dies at 76

Diener, who lived inManhattan, died Saturday of complications from cancer, said her grandson, Ethan Marre. She was 76.

After a bit part in the 1950 Broadway comedy "Season in the Sun," Diener won a role in the 1953 musical, "Kismet," playing the voluptuous Lalume. She later starred in the London production of this Arabian Nights musical.

After a dozen years away from Broadway, Diener played the country wench Aldonza in "Man of La Mancha," a musical about Don Quixote, starring Richard Kiley. It was directed by her husband, Albert Marre, who had also directed "Kismet."

"Man of La Mancha," which has a score by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion and a book by Dale Wasserman, was one of the longest running musicals of the 1960s, playing more than 2,300 performances.

Diener recreated the role of Aldonza in other productions, including the London production, a French-language version starring Jacques Brel and again on Broadway when she succeeded Sheena Easton as Aldonza in the 1992 revival.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, on Feb. 24, 1930, she attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, where she majored in psychology and moonlighted as a stage actress, the AP reports.