Born Michael DiFiglia in Buffalo, NY, Mr. Bennett came to New York as a dancer in the early 1960s, and appeared on Broadway in the choruses of Subways Are for Sleeping and Here's Love, and TV shows like "Hullabaloo," before quickly stepping up to choreographer on A Joyful Noise at age 23.
He choreographed original productions of Promises, Promises; Coco; Company; and Follies (all while still in his 20s) before taking over as director and choreographer for the troubled out-of-town tryout of Seesaw in 1973.
He and Bob Fosse fused the jobs of director and choreographer for musicals in the 1970s, with Bennett going on to perform those jobs on Dreamgirls, Ballroom and his masterwork, A Chorus Line. He won a total of seven Tony Awards for his work. Mr. Bennett died of AIDS July 2, 1987.
In the clip below, three of Mr. Bennett's favorite dancers, Baayork Lee, Donna McKechnie and Margo Sappington, perform one of Bennett's choreographic masterpieces, the neck-snapping "Turkey Lurkey Time" from Promises, Promises on the 1969 Tony Awards broadcast. Six years later, McKechnie and Lee (and their life stories) would be immortalized in A Chorus Line. The dance break starts at the 1:55 mark.
After the clip, see even more highlights of Bennett's work on Broadway.
Click through for more videos!
A tribute to Michael Bennett, where we see Donna McKechnie's fantastic "Music and the Mirror."
The original cast of A Chorus Line performs "One."
The commercial for the original production.
A Chorus Line - Broadway 3,389th performance finale.
Clips and history of the original production.
A rare look at Kelly Bishop performing "At the Ballet" in 1983.
Donna McKechnie performs "The Music and the Mirror."
The cast of the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line performs on the Tony Awards.
Original cast members from A Chorus Line perform on "The Donahue Show." Here's "At the Ballet."
Priscilla Lopez sings "What I Did for Love" on "The Donahue Show."
Jennifer Holliday performs "And I'm Telling You" at the Tony Awards:
Jennifer Holliday and Jennifer Hudson duet on "And I'm Telling You":
Footage from the 1971 run-through.
Elaine Stritch performs "I'm Still Here."
Polly Bergen sings "I'm Still Here" at the Tony Awards.
The transformation to "Loveland."
Ann Miller performs "I'm Still Here."
Dorothy Collins sings "Losing My Mind."
Elaine Paige sings "I'm Still Here."
"Turkey Lurkey Time" from Promises, Promises in the movie "Camp":