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‘Black Patent Leather Shoes’ author John R. Powers dies at 67

John R. Powers — author best-selling book musical 'Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?' — died Thursday 67.

John R. Powers — author of the best-selling book and musical "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?" — died Thursday at 67.

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Updated: February 19, 2013 3:22PM



John R. Powers, the author and South Side native who wrote the satirical novel, “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” died Thursday.

Powers who lived in Lake Geneva, Wis., died of a heart attack, according to the Lake Geneva Regional News newspaper. He was 67.

The novel-turned-musical poked fun at Catholic dogma through the eyes of adolescents and had a record run at a theater in Summit beginning in 1979 before ascending to a short run on Broadway.

When the production was recast at the same Summit theater in 1996, Chicago Sun-Times theater critic Hedy Weiss commented the play’s title suggests the “nuns’ warning to their female charges that shiny shoes can offer sex-hungry boys a titillating view under their skirts.”

“On the day he died he just finished a new one-man play and I think it was supposed to be produced. He went out on a high note,” said Joe Martin, a good friend and nationally syndicated cartoonist.

Powers grew up in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood and went to Brother Rice High School.

“For the last few years he’d been a public speaker doing motivational comedy and businesses-type speeches,” Martin said. “He also used to give motivational talks to the Chicago Bears before their football games.”

“He won two Emmys, he has five books still in print, and ‘Black Patent Shoes’ is still being produced at local theaters all over the country,” Martin said.

He is survived by his wife, JaNelle, and two daughters, Jacey and Joy.



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