shared a lifelong love of the theater with others
Jack Williams STAFF WRITER PUBLICATION: San Diego Union-Tribune, The (CA)
Growing up in the golden age of Hollywood was Ted Reed's rehearsal, of sorts, for subsequent theatrical ventures that ranged from acting to writing and directing.
With youthful memories of swimming with Charlie Chaplin and meeting Douglas Fairbanks Sr. still fresh in his mind, he helped create the avant-garde Crystal Palace Theater in April 1972.An intimate playhouse in Mission Beach originally built in the 1950s as a hamburger stand, the Crystal Palace presented 27 world premieres before closing in 1977.It was an outgrowth of Theater: Research and Development, a company Mr. Reed co-founded with his wife, Mary Lou, and others, to create original, cutting-edge productions.If a patron wasn't ready to participate -- to respond to an actor's query or to become part of the set -- he or she had come to the wrong place. Ted Reed's idea of theater was audience-interactive and total immersion. While some of the plays were scripted, many involved extemporaneous monologues that created what Todd Blakesley, a playwright and Crystal Palace founder, called "an organic attachment between actor and scene."Mr. Reed died of congestive heart failure April 7 at a son's home in Oakhurst. He was 88.Despite his Hollywood connections, he studied horticulture at the University of Oregon. "He was supposed to take over our parents' orange grove in Rancho Santa Fe, but that never happened," said his sister, Helen Reed Lehman. Instead, Mr. Reed worked several years processing records for the county assessor's office. He left to open his first of two bookstores -- one in Mission Beach, the other in La Jolla. Both were known for their eclectic, antiquarian inventories. He also became involved in the 1960s with Theater Five, a Pacific Beach playhouse operated by Bob Glaudini. It was there that he appeared with his wife -- whose stage name was Rosie Driffield -- in the San Diego premiere of Paul Foster's "Tom Paine." "Ted was passionate about drama and literature," Lehman said. "After he retired from the assessor's office, his literary ambitions blossomed. "Some of the plays that he wrote were performed under his direction at the Crystal Palace on Ocean Front Walk, which could accommodate fewer than 50 patrons. His works included "Ballroom West," "Eisenhower and the Wilderness Freeway," "A Baseball a Day," and a dark comedy, "The In-Dweller." Theodore Stewart Reed was born in Detroit and moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1918. His father, J.T. Reed, exposed him to a host of Hollywood celebrities through his role as production manager for Douglas Fairbanks Sr."Ted listened to Fairbanks spin story ideas and watched Victor Fleming drive a golf ball through a neighbor's window," Lehman said. One of his prized possessions was a Lincoln Town Car that once belonged to Hollywood starlet Thelma Todd, who was murdered in 1935. Although he later studied film and actors seriously, his first loves were the theater and literature. "His major influence on me was in critical thinking and analysis, helping me understand and appreciate the arts," said Blakesley, who wrote and directed several Crystal Palace productions. "Ted went through phases. He pretty much gave up in films in the '40s and '50s, then became interested again after a new wave of foreign films came in. Then he wrote some film analyses, some for publication. "After the Crystal Palace closed, Mr. Reed moved to Oakhurst, in the foothills of the western Sierra Nevada, where he developed a computer program for job tracking and construction management. When his wife died in 1985, he returned to San Diego County and made his home in Vallecitos near Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. While living in Vallecitos, he wrote the manuscript for a novel, "To Some Islands," which was loosely based on his early life. Survivors include his sons, John and Ted, both of Oakhurst; sister, Helen Reed Lehman of Lakeside; brother, Robert of La Jolla; seven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. No services were scheduled. Jack Williams: (619) 542-4587; firstname.lastname@example.org