Marc Breaux, Choreographer of Movie Musicals, Dies at 89

By Robert Simonson
22 Nov 2013

Marc Breaux, who, with his partner-wife, delighted 1960s movie audiences with his choreography for the hit Julie Andrews musicals "The Sound of Music" and "Mary Poppins," died Nov. 19 in Mesa, AZ, in an assisted-living facility. He was 89.



Working with his then wife, Dee Dee Wood, Mr. Breaux created several notable showcases of cinematic footwork, including the iconic "Step in Time" dance, in which countless chimney sweeps hop about the rooftops of London. The number was representative of a kind of athletic choreography the pair brought to their films. When "The Sound of Music" director Robert Wise saw a screening of the number, he hired the duo for his film, where he guided Julie Andrews in her twirlings atop picturesque mountains and taught the Von Trapp children to say "So Long, Farewell" with simple flair.

Marc Breaux was born Nov. 3, 1924, in Carencro, LA, near Lafayette. He studied dance at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette before serving in the Navy as a pilot during World War II.

Breaux began as a performer, singing and dancing in the 1950s musicals Catch a Star!, Li'l Abner and Destry Rides Again. While performing in Catch a Star!, he met and married Dee Dee Wood. His and Wood's first Broadway choreographer job was the 1960 Phil Silvers vehicle Do Re Mi, written by Jule Styne, Adolph Green and Betty Comden. The New York Times called their work "full of high spirits."

The next season, he was associate choreographer for another Styne, Comden and Green show, Subways Are For Sleeping, working under Michael Kidd.

Soon after, Mr. Breaux and Wood began taking on television work, on shows like "The United States Steel Hour" and "The Andy Williams Show." Dick Van Dyke worked with him and his wife on "The Jack Benny Program," and recommended them to the producers of "Mary Poppins." They worked with Van Dyke again on the musical "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," creating the memorable number "Doll on a Music Box," in which Van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes perform as life-size music-box figurines.

From 1964-1970, Mr. Breaux and Wood were choreographers on the weekly musical revue series "The Hollywood Palace." Other television credits include a 1972 version of Of Thee I Sing.

In later years, Mr. Breaux abandoned choreographing for editing work in a Hollywood post-production house before retiring.

Breaux is survived by a son, Michael, four granddaughters and one great-granddaughter.