Joyce Sloane: One-woman history of the Chicago theater renaissance

February 7, 2011

The life of Joyce Sloane, who died Thursday night at the age of 80, reads like a one-woman history of the Chicago theater renaissance.  The Producer Emeritus of Second City also co-founded Victory Gardens Theater, the League of Chicago Theaters and the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.  And she only narrowly missed co-founding Second City itself, having devoted a mere 50 years to the 51-year-old comedy fountainhead. 

More important than the credentials, as impressive as they are, are the universally warm feelings Sloane inspired.  One Second Citizen recalled, “In 1973, my mother and father came to Chicago to see me on stage at Second City. My mother and Joyce met privately and after 15 minutes they emerged from their meeting and my mother said to me:  ‘I will always be your mother but while in Chicago Joyce is your second mom, listen to her and do what she tells you.’  I was 21 and just in the touring company.   Joyce was my Chicago mum.  She was that for most of us, I think.”

“Mom” and its variants are the words that appear most frequently in the tributes now piling up on the Second City Website, followed closely by the word “love” and its cognates.  A company alumna, recalling Sloane’s attentions to her while she was in labor with a son who’s now 31, concluded her reminiscence by saying, “For so many of us, Bernie [Sahlins] was the brains, Fred [Kaz] was the soul, but Joyce will always be the heart.”  

Funeral services will be held this Tuesday, February 8th at 11:00am at Anshe Emet Synagogue, 3751 North Broadway. At noon, Second City will host a luncheon and open house followed by a memorial service at 1:30pm.

The family requests that contributions in Joyce's memory be sent to Chicago Academy for the Arts, 1010 W. Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 606420-5414, and/or to Victory Gardens.