When Iris Loev (née Kramer) was asked if she was afraid to die, she answered that while she wasn’t afraid, she wanted to live.
“She wanted to get up and travel and see her family and her friends,” remembered her daughter Bonnie Loev-Detrick. “She just wanted life and that’s always how she lived. I thought that was an interesting distinction.”
Loev, a Philadelphia native, died Sept. 7 after a battle with cancer. She was 80.
She left behind a colorful career as a performer, singer and actress — working under the stage name Iris Hunter — perhaps best known as her role as Goldie the Bunny on Sally Starr’s Popeye Theater in the late 1950s.
She was instrumental in Philadelphia’s burgeoning arts and music scene, becoming friends with the likes of Dick Clark and Connie Francis.
Bobby Darin apparently once asked her out on a date, but she thought he was full of himself and said no, laughed Loev-Detrick, who said her mother was a “very independent woman.”
Instead, she was married for nearly 53 years to Arthur Loev, who had seen her once in a show. When Loev-Detrick’s aunt and uncle — who didn’t know Loev — were driving and saw Loev, who was driving an MG, they pulled over to talk about the cars and decided to fix her up with Loev-Detrick’s father.
“He showed up, recognized her immediately and within two minutes said, ‘This is the woman I’m going to marry.’ It took her five years to decide that was OK,” she laughed. “It was not quite so immediate for her but she was really independent, wanted to live her life.”
Arthur Loev said Iris Loev “was the nicest, most compassionate and honest person” he has ever met.
Her love for performing was passed down to Loev-Detrick, who is also an actor. She said her mother was involved in regional theater after she stopped touring when she had her children. She did shows with Congregations of Shaare Shamayim and at the JCC (now KleinLife) in Northeast Philadelphia.
Her mother lived without inhibitions, Loev-Detrick said, which sometimes embarrassed her.
“If she was fourth in line at the post office and decided to belt out a tune, that’s what was going to happen. I was mortified by her at 15,” she laughed. “By 25, I appreciated it and said I wanted to be just like her. But that’s how she was, all instinct and impulse. She loved life every single day.”
Her impulses led to other experiences like participating in the Miss Philadelphia pageant in 1961, in which she was first runner-up.
“It was just an opportunity, and that’s how she was,” Loev-Detrick said. “She said, ‘OK, great. I’ll do that, too,’ and she joined and did really, really well.”
She also loved animals and the water. She enjoyed trips to the beach and watching the ocean.
But for her, family was always most important.
“She always said it was her children, her family and then everything else was third.”
Iris Loev is survived by husband Arthur Loev; siblings Karin Kramer Baldwin and Barry Kramer; children Marc Loev (Toni), Bonnie Detrick (Tom), and Scott Loev (Alycia); and six grandchildren, Aaron, Ethan, Kyle, Ryan, Ariel, and Jackson. Donations in her name can be made to Oceana.org or the charity of your choice.
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