Tom Panko, a Broadway chorus dancer who would become choreographer for Broadway's Golden Rainbow and the film, "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?," died Feb. 18 of complications following heart surgery, according to friends.
Mr. Panko was 74 and will be remembered by friends and family 1 PM March 16 in the Ellington Room at Manhattan Plaza, 400 W. 43rd Street. He was a resident there. Up until the time of his death he took dance classes in the building and was an active part of the showfolk community on that block near the theatre district.
As a dancer, he began his career in the national tour of Guys and Dolls and on Broadway in Can-Can, Li'l Abner and The Music Man, where he became professionally involved with the choreographer Onna White. Mr. Panko would later assist White with the choreography for Take Me Along, Irma La Douce, Half a Sixpence, Mame and the films , "The Music Man" and "Bye Bye Birdie." He was associate choreographer for Onna White-choreographed Academy Award-winning film, "Oliver!"
As a staff choreographer for Warner Brothers, he staged sequences in episodic TV, including "Hawaiian Eye," "77 Sunset Strip" and "The Roaring Twenties."
At the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera he created musical staging for Guys and Dolls with Dan Dailey and Janis Paige and musical-staged numerous stock shows and tours, including The Music Man with Tony Randall. Over the years he also directed plays and staged nightclub shows and industrials. Mr. Panko was born and raised in Yonkers. He was a veteran of the U.S. Navy. Mr. Panko is survived by sisters-in-law Helen Panko and Susan Panko, of Yonkers, and many nieces and nephews.
— By Kenneth Jones