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Constance Carpenter, an actress whose roles included a starring performance opposite Yul Brynner in the original Broadway production of "The King and I," died on Saturday at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. She was 87 and lived in Manhattan.
Miss Carpenter died of a stroke, said a friend, Rudy Toronto.
Miss Carpenter, who appeared in British and American plays beginning in the 1920's, was the understudy to Gertrude Lawrence in the role of Anna in "The King and I," which opened on Broadway in 1951. When Miss Lawrence died in the fall of 1952, the show's producers, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein 2d, elevated Miss Carpenter to the lead role. She starred in the play for 620 performances.
Miss Carpenter was born in Bath, England, the daughter of vaudevillians, and began performing as a child. Her first Broadway appearance was in 1924 as a dancer in "Charlot's Revue," which starred Beatrice Lillie. A few years later, she was cast as the ingenue lead in the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical, "A Connecticut Yankee."
In the 1930's, she appeared in numerous musicals in both New York and London. During World War II, she returned to England and toured Europe, the Mideast and the Asian subcontinent, entertaining troops.
Returning to the United States in 1950, she became an American citizen. She continued to act on both sides of the Atlantic in shows that included "Auntie Mame" and "Separate Tables."
Miss Carpenter was married four times. Her first husband was J. H. S. Lord Lucas-Scudamore. She was also briefly married to Eric Berry, an actor, and twice married and divorced James Kennedy, a songwriter, who wrote "Red Sails in the Sunset."
There are no immediate survivors.
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