Jip Manring PRUDEN
94-400 Makalu Loop, Mililani Town, HI  96789-2405
808-623-2394 / cell: (808)291-3033
LTC, USA Ret'd

Saturday, January 8, 2022: 
I picked up the phone and dialed a number in Mililani Town,  Hawaii.  I had been leaving messages at that number for a few years, but no one ever picked up or returned my call.  Yesterday, I got lucky.  Jip Pruden, Class of 1944, answered the phone.    We had a great chat.  He is in really good shape for being 95.  His wife, however, is struggling with her physical health, these days, and he spends most of his time helping care for her.  My grandchildren live in Honolulu.  I told him the next time I was on the island, I would knock on his door.  He one-upped me and told me he would take me to lunch.

Leon Hirsh

Posted on January 12, 2024 by Wayne Harada

Jo Pruden, often regarded as “The First Lady of Hawaii Theater” for her astonishing and admirable stage performances here, died Jan. 10 at her Mililani home following a long illness. She was 84.  She suffered a stroke in 2021 but was well enough to perform – alongside her husband Jip Pruden —  in “Love Letters” in December 2023, at the Brad Powell Theatre at The Actors Group in Iwilei.

It was to be her final appearance in a string of more than 100 shows in a brilliant career spanning 55 years of stagecraft magic.

Jo and husband Jip arrived in Hawaii in October, 1967 and by February, 1968, she was playing the lead in “Send Me No Flowers” at the Little Theatre at Schofield Barracks, a humble beginning of greatness to come.
“I have only praise for Jo’s consummate talent as an actor as many would agree,” said Vanita Rae Smith, a prominent director-producer here and a theatrical colleague of Jo for more than five decades. “She was always in tune with the heart and soul of each character.

“Together, we’ve done over a hundred events, stage productions. Readers Theatre and 30 Schofield Barracks 4th of July Spectacular.

“We performed in Germany, Belgium, Sacramento, CA and Charlotte, NC. We worked together each day for 13 years at Richardson Theatre (at Fort Shafter) where she managed my Army Community Theatre box office. I celebrate my best friends and ohana, Jo and Jip Pruden for 55 wonderful years.”

Indeed, Jo had a wonderful life, sharing her skills in her beloved theatrical life. Her credits and accomplishments were bountiful, beautiful and broad:

    She amassed 18  Po’okela Awards, for perfomance excellence, from the Hawaii State Theatre Council.
    She was honored in 2007 with HSTC’s Pierre Bowman Lifetime Achievement Award, which spawned a memorable acceptance quote she borrowed a line from “Love Letters,” “If acting is your passion don’t you dare stop doing it for the rest of your life.”
    She was a notable isle talent on filmed-in-Hawaii CBS network television, logging 10 performances on “Hawaii Five-O” and five on “Magnum P.I.,” original versions shot here.
    She inhabited 48 Readers Theatre shows at  Army Community Theatre, and after the ACT terminated stage events,  joined numerous  readings at the Pohai Nani retirement residence in Kaneohe, then four more plays at TAG when the series relocated town side of the Koolaus.
    She did a tour of U.S. Army installations, doing shows in Germany and Belgium.
    She worked for TV Guide here, but retired to manage the ACT box office, where Smith was manager and producer who oversaw a range of entertainment events .With her alliance with the Army theater and a compadre of Smith, Jo also had another gig — narrating 25 ceremonies of the Army’s annual 4th of July hoopla for 25 years at Schofield

Jo was born and raised in Enterprise, Alabama, and her hometown name possibly inspired her enterprising acting career. She majored in Theater Arts at the University of Montevllo.

Jo’s tenure as a queen of drama embraced a swirl of community endeavors, at theaters large and small, on stages such as Army Community Theatre, Manoa Valley Theatre and its predecessor, Hawaii Performing Arts Company;  Diamond Head Theatre, and its predecessor, Honolulu Community Theatre; Kennedy Theatre, at the University of Hawaii, Windward Theatre Guild, Hawaii Theatre, Hawaii Pacific University Theatre, The Actors Group, Starving Artists Theater Company, Oumansky Magic Ring Theatre, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village; and several more.

A short list of her formidable credits include “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf,” “Agnes of God,” “Picnic,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Wolf,” “King Lear,” “The Trip to Bountiful,” “Doubt,” “August: Osage Country,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The American Dream,” “Nine,” “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” “Music Man,” and “Mame.”Besides her husband of 56 years, Jo is survived by  a sister, Jayne Pleasants, of Clayton, Georgia.

There will be no funeral service, but a celebration of life event is being planned for the afternoon of Feb. 18, specifics not yet known,  at Manoa Valley Theatre….

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