Artist Joan Worth, who carried on her late husband's work as a producer in furthering the legacies of comedian Lenny Bruce and black civil rights leader Malcolm X, has died. She was 72.
Worth, the widow of writer and producer Marvin Worth, died Dec. 8 at her home in Beverly Hills, said her daughter Missy Worth. A cause of death has not been released.
During their 44-year marriage, Worth pursued a career as a painter. However, she was also a close collaborator with her husband, helping him rework scripts as he amassed a string of credits as a producer, including the film biographies "Lenny" and "Malcolm X," and "The Rose," loosely based on the life of rock singer Janis Joplin.
Marvin Worth had been Bruce's early manager. He and his wife were close friends of both Bruce, who died of a morphine overdose in 1966, and Malcolm X, who was assassinated in 1965.
After Bruce's death, Marvin Worth acquired the rights to the comedian's life story and his written and recorded works. Bruce set legal precedents in his battles against censorship of his profanity-laced material that focused on taboo subjects of religion, sex and race.
Worth was also a producer of the Oscar-nominated 1972 documentary "Malcolm X" and a producer of the 1992 Spike Lee movie "Malcolm X," starring Denzel Washington. Malcolm X, a former convict, was one of the most charismatic figures in the civil rights movement. He was a leader of the Nation of Islam before splitting with the black Muslim organization and renouncing its policy of racial separatism after a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Marvin Worth died of lung cancer in 1998. Upon his death, his wife took over as president of Marvin Worth Productions.
In 1999, Joan Worth produced "Lenny" at the Queens Theatre in London.
She also took over working with producer Hal Willner on a six-CD compilation, "Lenny Bruce: Let the Buyer Beware," released in 2004.
And with producer-writer Alan Sacks, she co-wrote, co-produced and co-directed the one-man show "Lenny Bruce: In His Own Words."
Before her death, Worth was also writing "Malcolm X," a one-man show.