LINGUIST List 12.1656

Mon Jun 25 2001

All: Obituary: Lou Fant

Editor for this issue: Jody Huellmantel <>


  1. Mark_Mandel, Obituary: Lou Fant

Message 1: Obituary: Lou Fant

Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001 11:09:48 -0400
From: Mark_Mandel <>
Subject: Obituary: Lou Fant

>From the New York Times. The article is on line at
, but that URL may not work after today, June 25.

I studied with Lou one summer at Cal State Northridge. He will be greatly

 Mark A. Mandel : Dragon Systems, a Lernout & Hauspie company : Senior Linguist
 320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02460, USA :


Louis Fant, Who Helped Start the National Theater of the Deaf, Dies at 69


SEATTLE, June 24 -- Louis Fant, a hearing child of deaf parents who
helped found the National Theater of the Deaf in Waterford, Conn.,
died here on June 11. He was 69.

The cause was complications from pulmonary fibrosis, his family said.

Mr. Fant learned sign language before he learned to speak.

"I always considered sign language to be his mother tongue," his
youngest son, Lorn Fant, said in a telephone interview. "Getting sign
language out there was a big part of what he did. People saw that it
really is a beautiful language."

Louis Fant was born in Greenville, S.C., went to Baylor University,
planning a career in ministry for the hearing-impaired, and earned a
master's degree in teaching at Columbia University. He taught
elementary school students at the New York School for the Deaf before
joining the faculty at Gallaudet University in Washington, where he
developed an interest in theater.

In 1967 he helped found the National Theater of the Deaf in
Waterford. He toured with the group for three years as an actor,
interpreter, translator, narrator and administrator.

"It's broken down a lot of barriers, made hearing people aware of deaf
people, and that they have something to offer in theater, dance, art,
literature," Mr. Fant once told The Los Angeles Times.

He moved to California in the 1970's to pursue an acting career. He
appeared in local theater productions, in television shows including
"Little House on the Prairie" and "Cheers," and in films, including
"Looking for Mr. Goodbar."

He also worked as a consultant and sign-language coach for actors like
Diane Keaton, Henry Winkler and John Rubenstein, and was a coach on
the set of the movie "Children of a Lesser God." He conducted seminars
and wrote books on sign language, including "The American Sign
Language Phrase Book."

His son said that Mr. Fant grew disenchanted with Hollywood in the
late 1980's and moved to Seattle, where he taught sign language,
training and interpreting. He also taught at Seattle Central Community
College until his retirement last year.

Mr. Fant is survived by his wife, Barbara Bernstein, and four children.
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