Danny Daniels, the Broadway, film, and TV dancer and choreographer who enjoyed a career that lasted from 1941 to 2001, capped by a Tony Award for The Tap Dance Kid in 1984, died July 7 at age 92, Playbill has learned.
Daniels began his career in Hollywood in 1939, while still in his mid teens, as a featured dancer in the Bing Crosby film The Star Maker.
Daniels made his Broadway debut in the 1941 musical comedy Best Foot Forward, as the appropriately named character Dancing Boy. He also appeared as a featured dancer in musicals Billion Dollar Baby (1945) and Street Scene (1947), and was a featured dancer in Make Mine Manhattan (1948). He replaced in the role of Bill Calhoun during the original run of Kiss Me, Kate.
After a long stint in Hollywood he returned to Broadway in 1962, making his debut as choreographer with the Charles Strouse-Lee Adams-Mel Brooks musical All-American, creating choreography for Ray Bolger.
With a reputation as a star-friendly choreographer cemented, he created dances for Liza Minnelli and Christopher Walken in the 1963 Off-Broadway revival of Best Foot Foward, for Tammy Grimes in High Spirits, for Norman Wisdom in Walking Happy, and for Liv Ullman in I Remember Mama.
He's perhaps most widely known for his choreography on the 1981 musical Pennies From Heaven, again working with Walken, and teaching Steve Martin to tap dance. Here is Walken performing Daniels’ choreography to the song “Let’s Misbehave” in Pennies From Heaven as Bernadette Peters watches:
In 1991 Daniels choreographed Liza Minnelli and a group of dancers who are supposed to look like amateurs in the film Stepping Out.
Daniels’ Broadway career reached a peak with the 1983 musical The Tap Dance Kid, about a dance wunderkind. The musical starred Hinton Battle and Samuel E. Wright, with Alfonso Ribeiro in the title role. Ribeiro was replaced during the run by 10-year-old future Tony Award winner Savion Glover, making his Broadway debut doing Daniels’ choreography.
His last Broadway credit was supervising the brief dance passages in the 2001 comedy showcase for performers Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor, If you ever leave me...I’m going with you!