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 Marta Becket  (1925 - )

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: mural and stage-set painting, dancing

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Talented as a painter, dancer and pianist, Marta Becket lived most of her professional life at Death Valley Junction, California.  As a young woman, she danced on Broadway and at Radio City Music Hall and was in Showboat, A Wonderful Town and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  However, she left the East Coast because she wanted to create her own show.

In 1962, she married, and with her husband went to California in the spring of 1967.  They camped for a week in Death Valley behind the Visitor's Center.  At one point they had a flat tire, and for repair went to Death Valley Junction.  There she looked around at the old adobe buildings, and walking down the colonnade of the future Amargosa Hotel, discovered a huge building, which had been a theatre.  Looking through a hole in a door "she saw a small stage with faded calico curtains hanging from a track.  Debris was strewn all over the warped floor boards, and several rows of wooden benches faced the stage.  It was obvious the theater had been abandoned for quite some time.  It seemed to be the only unused building in Death Valley Junction. 'Peering through the tiny hole,  I had the distinct feeling that I was looking at the other half of myself.  The building seemed to be saying. . . . Take me . . . .do something with me. . . .I offer you life.' "

At first the couple rented the theater for $45.00 a month and made repairs, naming the building the Amargosa Opera House.  She gave her first perforance on February 10, 1968, and from that day for many years the Amargosa Opera House held her shows every Friday, Saturday and Monday nights.  Sometimes there was no audience at all, which inspired Becket to paint the walls and ceiling with a huge figure mural of audience members.   It was completed in 1974, and from that time she painted her own stage scenery.

Becket's husbnad left her in 1983, but shortly after Thomas J. Willett joined her as stage manager and M.C. and remained with her.  Of her life in Death Valley Junction, Marta Becket said:  "I am grateful to have found the place where I can fulfill my dreams and share them with the passing scene....for as long as I can."

In June 26, 2008, The Santa Barbara Independent newspaper, described Becket as the only resident of Death Valley Junction.  In 2000, an Emmy award-winning documentatry, Amargosa, directed by Todd Robinkson, was made with Becket as the subject.


Sources:
http://www.amargosa-opera-house.com/aboutmarta.htm (quotations from this source)
http://www.independent.com/news/2008/jun/26/marta-becket/




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