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Joan Worth, 72; theatrical writer-producer

LOS ANGELES -- Joan Worth, an artist who became a theatrical writer-producer in her later years to carry on her late husband's work in furthering the legacies of comedian Lenny Bruce and black nationalist leader Malcolm X, has died. She was 72.

Ms. Worth, the widow of writer-producer Marvin Worth, died Dec. 8 at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif., said her daughter Missy Worth.

While she pursued a career as a painter during their 44-year marriage, Joan Worth worked as a close collaborator with her husband, writing film treatments and helping him rework scripts as he amassed a string of credits as a producer, including the biopics "Lenny" and "Malcolm X," and "The Rose," loosely based on the life of Janis Joplin.

Marvin Worth had been Bruce's early manager, and he and his wife were close friends of both Bruce, who died of a morphine overdose in 1966, and Malcolm X, who was assassinated in 1965.

After Bruce died, Marvin Worth acquired the rights to the controversial comedian's life story and his written and recorded works. Marvin Worth was one of the producers of Julian Barry's play "Lenny," which opened on Broadway in 1971 and starred Cliff Gorman; and he was the producer of the 1974 film of the same name starring Dustin Hoffman.

Marvin Worth was also a producer of the Oscar-nominated 1972 documentary "Malcolm X" and a producer of the 1992 Spike Lee movie "Malcolm X."

After her husband died of lung cancer in 1998 at the age of 72, Ms. Worth took over as president of Marvin Worth Productions.

In addition to her daughter Missy, Ms. Worth leaves a son, writer-producer Jody Worth; a daughter, Daniele Worth-Ochoa; and four grandchildren.

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