Siff, Iris Futor (1923–1982)

By: Donna P. Parker

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

Updated: November 23, 2017

Iris Futor (or Futoransky) Siff, executive of the Alley Theatre in Houston, daughter of Israel G. and Sophia (Spitz) Futor, was born at Cushing, Oklahoma, on December 11, 1923. She attended Tyler Junior College in Texas, the Universidad Autónoma de México (1942), and the University of Texas, from which she received a bachelor's degree in theater in 1944. After graduation she was employed as a radio field representative to South America by the Office of Inter-American Affairs. She married Alvin Siff on September 1, 1946; they had twin sons. Mrs. Siff joined the Alley Theatre as an actress in 1948, one year after its inception and just before its move from its original home on South Main to a factory it converted on Berry Street. She played the role of Mary in John Loves Mary, the last play on South Main, and she costumed the first show, The Children's Hour, in the theater's new home. In 1963 she was invited to testify before the United States Senate labor subcommittee on the arts, which was then working on legislation to establish the National Endowment for the Arts. After a period as a fashion coordinator and director of special services at the Sakowitz department store (1948–50, 1951–53), she returned to the Alley in 1964 to become the assistant of the theater's founder and director, Nina Vance. Iris Siff became managing director in 1968 and later conferred with architect Ulrich Franzen in developing a $5.5 million downtown theater complex. Her many accomplishments include the 1971 formation of the Alley's volunteer wing, the Alley Guild; the founding of the Alley Academy; and the introduction of the Studio School at Theatre, Incorporated, the Merry-Go-Round School at Casa Mañana in Fort Worth, and the Alley Merry-Go-Round. In 1980 she assumed both management and artistic operations upon Vance's death. Two years after having accepted control of the Alley, she was murdered in her office in the early hours of January 13, 1982. Her assailant, Clifford X. Phillips (also known as Abdullah Bashir), had worked at the theater as a security guard until a short time before the incident; he received a death sentence. A wrongful death suit filed by the Siff family against the theater's security company and two of its employees was settled out of court in 1984. Siff was buried in Emanu-El Memorial Park in Houston.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 14, 1982. Houston Post, January 14, 15, September 14, 1982, March 6, 1984. New York Times, January 15, 1982. Who's Who of American Women, 1966–67.

  • Peoples
  • Jews
  • Visual Arts
  • Women
  • Performing Arts
Time Periods:
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Donna P. Parker, “Siff, Iris Futor,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022,

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June 1, 1995
November 23, 2017

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