Buddy Youngreen

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Erwin Buddy Youngreen celebrated his 50th year in stage production in 2010. He is a director, producer, actor, and playwright. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes casually called the Mormon Church or LDS Church.

Born in Chicago in 1939, his family relocated to California in his early childhood. He joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was 19 and two years later was head yell leader at BYU (1960-61). When they couldn't find anyone else to put on the suit, Youngreen opted to serve as BYU's mascot "Cosmo" (1961-62). He was the seventh to do so. Youngreen earned a bachelor's degree in dramatic arts from BYU and a Master of Fine Arts degree in theater from Pacific Western University. His first experience as a director was at the age of 21. His preparations for directing The Wizard of Oz included interviewing stars from the famous movie.

Youngreen was directing shows at the Pink Garter and Diamond Lil's in Jackson Hole, when he heard that Robert Redford had purchased Timp Haven (now Sundance Ski Resort). Youngreen had a light bulb go on over his head.

"When he [Redford] became convinced I knew what I was talking about, he let me bring in shows," Youngreen said. "We looked over the hill and selected the spot to be taken for the outdoor theater." Thus, the Sundance Summer Theater was born. [1]

Youngreen has directed a theater full of children's fairytales, particularly while at the Pasadena Playhouse in Southern California. He also has a flare for melodrama, comedies and, in his later years, has even directed an opera. In 1986 he directed and produced "The Salt Lake Saga," a multi-media production featuring Lorne Greene.

While Youngreen considers dramatic arts his vocation, studying the family of church founder and prophet Joseph Smith is his avocation. Youngreen's interest in the Smith family started with a photo he saw in St. George of one of Joseph Smith's sons with Major Lewis C. Bidamon, whom Emma Smith married after Smith's martyrdom. While the descendants of Joseph's brother Hyrum stayed with the main body of the Church (as authority to lead the Church passed to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and then to Brigham Young), Joseph's wife Emma stayed in Nauvoo. While Hyrum's descendants became leaders in the Church, Joseph's sons drifted away.

Youngreen visited 16 states and interviewed 13 of Joseph's descendants. "They were Catholics, Buddhists, agnostics and atheists," he said. "I found myself teaching them about their grandfather instead of the other way around." [2] In 1972 Youngreen hosted the first reunion of the Joseph Smith Sr. family. Eight of Joseph Smith's siblings were represented by their descendents. He then served as chief officer of the family organization for 33 years.

Youngreen is the author of Reflections of Emma: Joseph Smith's Wife, the two book series Joseph and Emma: A Love Story, and many other papers and articles on the Smith family. He also wrote a multi-media play on their love story entitled Yesterday and Forever, with music by Lynn A. Bryson. Youngreen continues to lecture throughout the world about Joseph and Emma Smith and their family, with 50 to 100 speaking engagements each year. He also tours with Latter-day Saint specialty groups on cruises and bus tours all over the U.S., Europe and South America.