Founder Of National Black Theatre Festival Dies

The man who started the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem has died after a long illness.

Festival organizers say Larry Leon Hamlin was 58 when he died early yesterday. Hamlin's family would --not-- talk about his cause of death, but had previously said he was recovering at home after a stint in intensive care.

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines says Hamlin did a great job of creating a solid foundation for the future. Hamlin was known for wearing big sunglasses and the color purple.

He often described things as "marvtastic," an expression he created from the words "marvelous" and "fantastic."

The Reidsville native attended Brown University and returned to North Carolina, founding the North Carolina Black Repertory Company in 1979.