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Mort Alper, 84, Travel Agent, Writer and Actor

August 24, 2006
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Mort Alper, 84, an actor, journalist, travel agent and contributing writer to the Jewish Exponent, whose wanderlust took him all over the globe, died July 29 in a car crash, in which his wife survived. He was a resident of Elkins Park.

In 1967, Alper started a 20-year relationship with Rosenbluth Travel, whose Elkins Park office he managed. But it wasn't his first brush with global journeys.

Born in Rochester, N.Y., he and his family moved frequently along the East Coast early on. In 1941, he took a summer off and hitchhiked across the country. From 1942 to 1945, Alper toured the world as a member of the Merchant Marines.

But it was perhaps a stop not that far from home that proved to be his most heartfelt. When he was off hitchhiking, his mother had seen an article about a New York theater seeking actors, recalls his widow, the former Ruth Robinson, and held it for his return.

"My mother had also seen that ad at home in Brooklyn, and after I graduated from high school, I went to that audition, too," she said.

They met and soon acted upon their hearts -- thus began the first stage of what would become a 62-year marriage.

Acting and touring traveled well together as Alper, a member of the Screen Actors Guild, appeared in numerous regional productions, including a two-year stint playing Uncle Dave in the local production of "Grandma Sylvia's Funeral."

But it was a production of "Twelve Angry Men" that this good-humored and spirited actor reveled in most.

He also appeared in Philadelphia-shot movies such as "The Sixth Sense," "Beloved" and "Two Bits."

"We waited for the entire movie to see him," recalled his wife of the latter, "and then, just as we were about to give up, they show the last scene in the film, and there he is, as the usher taking the tickets!"

At 84, he still played tennis four days a week, and kept what his wife said was one of his most endearing attributes: "A sense of humor."

A private memorial service will be held in his honor on Sunday, Aug. 27.

In addition to his wife, Alper is survived by daughters Mara Alper and Glenna Ashton; brother Perry Alper; and a grandson.

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