Former Broadway star and Utah resident Melva Niles Barborka died on March 12 at age 86, after battlling with the neurological disease, CIDP, according to Margaret Wahlstrom, Public Relations Vice President of the Utah PTA.
In info provided by Washburn:
At age 22, Niles, noticed by Edwin Lester, head of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, moved her from chorus girl to the lead in “Song of Norway.” This led to a successful career on Broadway and beyond.
It was during the national tour of “Song of Norway” that Melva met Clifford Joseph Barborka, Jr. They married in June of 1949. Following the national tour, Melva stepped into a lead role as Solis in the Broadway show "Magdalena," in 1947-48.
Many Utah residents remember her performances at the Valley Music Hall in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s with actor James Shigeta, in “The King and I,” with Art Lund in “I Do, I Do,” and with Robert Peterson in “Kiss Me Kate.”
Melva is arguably best known for her album with Robert Peterson, “Things Lovely,” performed with the CBS Radio Orchestra, with the song called "one of the most beloved collections of LDS hymns ever produced," according to Washburn.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, March 19, at noon in the South Jordan Stake Center at 10400 South 2450 West in South Jordan.