Linda Louise Arnold, a former professional dancer who helped start and teach the children's performing arts program at Chautauqua Playhouse for more than 25 years, died July 14 of cancer, her family said. She was 71.
Mrs. Arnold was a veteran performer who began dancing with the San Francisco Ballet in high school under the stage name Linda Louise. She attended Sacramento State and performed with the Sacramento Ballet and the Music Circus before heading to New York to join the Corps de Ballet at Radio City Music Hall.
As a dance captain with the Bob Arlen Dancers, she toured supper clubs in the United States and Canada. She was introduced to James "Jimmie" Arnold, the original tenor of The Four Lads, whose hits included "Istanbul" and "Moments to Remember." They married in 1966, and she quit performing to tour with the quartet. After her husband retired, the couple settled in Sacramento in 1980.
Mrs. Arnold began a second career as a teacher and choreographer to share her talents with young people. She traveled and gave free dance lessons at local recreation centers and day care centers.
"My mother was very passionate about getting arts classes to people who couldn't afford it," said her daughter Kimberly Lange. "When she was growing up, her parents sacrificed a lot so that she could get the dance classes she wanted."
Concerned about budget cuts in school music programs, Mrs. Arnold joined her husband in starting and running the Sacramento Children's Performing Choir. The group, for children 6 to 12 years old, performed for more than 17 years and won many talent competitions.
The couple joined legendary regional theater actor Boots Martin in 1985 in starting a performing arts program for children at Chautauqua Playhouse in Carmichael. Mrs. Arnold choreographed productions and led intensive dance classes in summer, fall and spring sessions.
She also acted frequently in the Chautauqua Playhouse Children's Theatre, most recently in "The Prince and the Pauper" in May.
"She was great," children's theatre director Marie Raymond said. "The actors always come out and greet the children, and they just loved her. She was so upbeat and related to children so well."
Born in 1940 in San Diego to Louise and Gloyde Funk, Mrs. Arnold moved with her family to Placerville, Woodland and San Francisco before settling in Sacramento. She graduated from George Washington High School in San Francisco.
A Carmichael resident, Mrs. Arnold had a daughter with her husband of 38 years, who died in 2004. She enjoyed going to the theater and owned season tickets for Music Circus and the Broadway Series for many years.
"My mother was a big supporter of local theater up until the end," her daughter said. "She loved going out with her friends and seeing shows in town."
Editor's note: This article was changed to correct Mrs. Arnold's stage name. It was Linda Louise. In addition, she helped start the children's performing arts program at Chautauqua Playhouse, not the children's theater program there.