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Actress and Philanthropist Dies Of Cancer

October 12, 1988 GMT

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) _ Bonita Granville Wrather, actress, businesswoman and widow of oilman- entrepre neur Jack Wrather and a longtime friend of President and Nancy Reagan, died of cancer at age 65.

Mrs. Wrather died Tuesday at St. John’s Hospital here, said family spokesman Mickey Freeman.

A statement from the Reagans called Mrs. Wrather ″a figure of beauty and grace in the motion-picture business.″

″But more than that, she was a warm and caring friend. For so many years, she enriched our lives with her sparkling personality, her wonderful sense of humor, her loyalty and her love,″ the Reagans said.

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One of her last public appearances was in June, when she retired as chairwoman of the American Film Institute.

″We grieve with the family that this vital woman, whose life spanned so many accomplishments as an actress, wife, mother, corporate executive, philanthropist, inspirational leader and friend, will no longer be at our side,″ said institute director Jean Firstenberg.

She had been chairwoman of Wrather Corp., the entertainment conglomerate that ran the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim and Queen Mary and Spruce Goose attractions in Long Beach and owned syndication rights to the ″Lone Ranger″ and ″Lassie″ television shows. Wrather was sold to the Walt Disney Co. for $152 million last January.

Mrs. Wrather was born in New York City on Feb. 12, 1923. She was nicknamed ″Bunny″ after her vaudeville star father, Bernard ″Bunny″ Granville.

By the time she was 7, she had starred in her first film, ″Westward Passage.″

She earned an Academy Award nomination for her role as a lying school girl in the 1936 movie ″These Three,′ and by the time she was 23 had been in 50 films, including ″Cavalcade,″ ″Ah, Wilderness,″ ″Now Voyager″ ″The Plough and the Stars,″ and ″Hitler’s Children.′

In 1946, Mrs. Wrather starred in ″The Guilty,″ and fell in love with the movie’s producer, Texas oilman Wrather. They married the next year; he died in 1984.

She appeared on television in the 1950s in such shows as ″The U.S. Steel Hour,″ ″Playhouse 90,″ ″Climax,″ and ″Studio One.″

In 1972, President Nixon appointed Mrs. Wrather to serve on the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center. She was appointed for another term in 1982 by President Reagan.

Funeral services were pending.

Mrs. Wrather is survived by son Christopher and daughters Linda Wrather- Finochiaro and Molly Wrather-Dolle.