'One of the most beautiful voices': Broadway star Rebecca Luker dies at 59

David Oliver, USA TODAY
·2 min read

Broadway actress and singer Rebecca Luker, known for her roles in "The Secret Garden" and "The Music Man," died Wednesday at age 59.

Her longtime friend David Staller confirmed her death to USA TODAY on the family's behalf.

Luker died from complications stemming from ALS. The New York Times was the first to report the news of her death.

Luker, a soprano, was nominated for three Tony Awards, including "Show Boat" in 1995; "The Music Man" in 2000; and "Mary Poppins" in 2007. She also starred in a Broadway revival of "The Sound of Music" in 1998.

Luker made her Broadway debut in "The Phantom of the Opera," according to the Times, where she took on the lead role of Christine in 1989. She started out as the understudy to original actress Sarah Brightman and later served as her alternate.

She announced her ALS diagnosis in February, reports the Times.

ALS is short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. As many as 30,000 people in the U.S. have it, according to Johns Hopkins. Annually, 5,000 new cases are diagnosed.

She is survived by actor husband Danny Burstein and two stepsons, according to the Times.

Broadway actors shared memories of Luker on Twitter.

"Rebecca Luker was one of the most beautiful voices on Broadway and a lovely person," Bernadette Peters wrote. "We are all devastated for (Burstein) and for ourselves ... we will never get to witness her talents on stage again."

"Theater kids, If you haven’t yet, immediately bathe in the glory of that original Broadway cast recording of The Secret Garden with Rebecca Luker as Lily," Steven Pasquale wrote. "In a belty, riffy world, she reminds us of what great pure singing is."

Jenna Ushkowitz added: "The Broadway community mourns today for Rebecca Luker. I didn’t know her personally but she greatly impacted so many lives. Love and light to her dear family and friends."

In other sad news: Tony-winning choreographer Ann Reinking dies at 71; Bernadette Peters, other stars mourn

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rebecca Luker dead: Broadway actress and singer dies at 59