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Paul Sills is best remembered as Chicago's father of improvisation, the innovative co-founder/director of the celebrated Compass Players and Chicago's Second City improvisational comedy troupes. Sills sought to teach the comedy acting techniques of improvisation instilled in him by his mother, Viola Spolin, who once taught creative dramatics to children and adults at a recreational center. Her techniques included acting games, storytelling, folk dances and other forms of self-expression now the basis of most improvisational training.Reluctant of the limelight, Sills stayed pretty much out of the picture but his legion of followers have included some of entertainment's most renowned actors. One of his first ensembles (Compass Players) included Severn Darden, Elaine May, Mike Nichols and Barbara Harris, to whom he was once married. His original Second City troupe included Darden, Harris, Roger Bowen, Mina Kolb, Andrew Duncan and Eugene Troobnick. A famous branch of the Chicago group formed in Toronto, Canada and included upcoming comedy sketch stars Gilda Radner, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. On Broadway, one of Sills' biggest successes came with the Tony-nominated revue "Story Theatre", a reworking of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm. Cast member Paul Sand won a Tony award for his performance in 1971.Into the '90s, Sills continued to influence up-and-coming talent with his lectures and workshops. He also published a book in 2000 entitled "Paul Sills' Story Theater: Four Shows." The father of five (one son and four daughters -- David, Rachel, Polly, Aretha and Neva), Paul lived in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin with his third wife, Carol Bleackley, a painter and teacher, until his death of pneumonia at age 80 in 2008.

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