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British actor hangs himself during stage performance

August 19, 1997 GMT

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ An actor portraying Judas in the musical ``Jesus Christ Superstar″ hanged himself, dying on stage before an audience of more than 500 people, authorities said today.

Investigators were trying to determine why the man failed to attach a safety harness.

Anthony Wheeler, 26, of Liverpool, England, choked to death late Sunday during a performance at a resort hotel on Greece’s Chalkidiki peninsula.

The character Judas hangs himself in the musical _ but the actor is supposed to use a safety harness.

Wheeler didn’t, said Dimitris Hatziyannakis, manager of the Sani Beach Hotel.

Wheeler was not depressed and appeared normal before the show, Hatziyannakis said.

It took more than five minutes for the other actors to realize that Wheeler had not reappeared after his scene. When the lights went on, the actors and audience saw Wheeler’s hanging body.