Mike Ellis, a theater producer who ran the Bucks County Playhouse and other regional theaters and staged plays that helped launch the careers of noted playwrights and actors, died Oct. 2. He was 90 and lived in Pittsboro, N.C.
Mike owned and was managing director of the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope from 1954 to 1964. He staged 45 world or American premiers, and produced Neil Simon's first play, "Come Blow Your Horn."
He cast newcomers Robert Redford and Louise Fletcher as the young lovers in a 1963 show, "Nobody Loves Me," which became "Barefoot in the Park" on Broadway. Others who performed early in their careers during Mike's tenure included Faye Emerson, Dick Van Dyke, Merv Griffin and Constance Bennett.
Mike was born in Philadelphia and raised in Wilkes-Barre. He received a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College in 1939 and a master's from Drew University in 1973.
He began his career in the theater as an actor then stage manager in New York City. He was producer or co-producer of nine Broadway and three off-Broadway shows between 1951 and 1970.
Mike was passionate about stage magic and, after he retired from the theater, practiced the craft.
Mike's first marriage to actress Neva Patterson ended in divorce, and his second wife, Mary Elizabeth Walker, died in 1986. In 1987, he married Betty Lou Ellis.
Besides his wife, he also is survived by a son, Gordon W. Ellis, and his stepchildren, Merrill Rose and Robert L. Rose Jr.; two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.