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Actor Christopher Gable Dies

November 1, 1998

LONDON (AP) _ Christopher Gable, a ballet star who also had a successful acting career on stage and film, is dead at 58.

Gable died of cancer Oct. 23 at his home in Yorkshire, where he was artistic director of the Northern Ballet Theatre in Leeds, news reports said.

The London-born dancer had a famous partnership in the Royal Ballet with Lynn Seymour. His first big success came with her in 1960 in ``The Invitation,″ a new ballet by choreographer Kenneth MacMillan.

Gable’s boyish good looks, grace and athleticism won him critical success and he became one of the Royal Ballet’s most popular dancers. His second partnership with Seymour, in Frederick Ashton’s new ballet, ``The Two Pigeons,″ in 1961, won the critics’ praise when he was only 20.

MacMillan choreographed his celebrated ``Romeo and Juliet″ for Gable and Seymour in 1965. But the two dancers lost out in the premiere when the ballet management decided to put the more famous Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn in the roles.

Even dancing in the second cast, Gable and Seymour were a hit with the critics.

Gable left the Royal Ballet in 1966 and was guest dancer with the Ballet Rambert, but arthritis in his feet led him to concentrate on an acting career.

He did a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he played Lysander in ``A Midsummer Night’s Dream,″ among other roles.

Gable performed in the theaters of London’s West End and in Manchester, northern England, for several years. He also appeared in director Ken Russell’s movies ``The Boy Friend,″ ``Women in Love,″ ``The Music Lovers,″ and ``The Rainbow.″

In 1982, he founded the Central School of Ballet in London where his wife, dancer Carole Needham, was a teacher.

Gable made an acclaimed return to the ballet stage in 1987 in the lead role in ``A Simple Man,″ about painter L.S. Lowry. The ballet appeared first on television and then went into the repertory of the Northern Ballet Theatre. Soon after, he became that company’s artistic director.

The Northern Ballet Theatre developed great popular success and won awards in 1990 and 1991 for its productions of ``Giselle″ and ``Romeo and Juliet.″

Queen Elizabeth II made Gable a Commander of the British Empire, or CBE, in 1996.

He is survived by his wife, and a son and daughter.

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