Michael Kidd, Tony-Winning Choreographer and Director, Dead at 92

Obituaries   Michael Kidd, Tony-Winning Choreographer and Director, Dead at 92
Michael Kidd, who won five Tony Awards as well as an Honorary Academy Award for his choreographic talents on Broadway and on screen, died Dec. 23 at his Los Angeles home, the New York Times reports. Mr. Kidd died from cancer, according to his nephew Robert Greenwald, who said his uncle was 92.
Michael Kidd
Michael Kidd Photo by pbs.org

Michael Kidd began his Broadway career as a performer in the late thirties/early forties in Filling Station, The Ballet Caravan, Billy the Kid, Interplay and Ballet Theatre. One of his early choreography credits was the original production of Finian's Rainbow, for which Mr. Kidd won a 1947 Tony Award, tying with Agnes de Mille (Brigadoon). He would go on to win four other Tony Awards — for his choreography for Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Li'l Abner and Destry Rides Again.

Li'l Abner — in 1956 — was the first Broadway production that Mr. Kidd both choreographed and directed. He would repeat both those duties for productions of Destry Rides Again, Wildcat, Subways Are for Sleeping, Ben Franklin in Paris, The Rothschilds, Cyrano and a 1980 revival of The Music Man.

Although he failed to win another Tony after his 1960 choreographic win for Destry Rides Again (he was also nominated for a director Tony for Destry), Mr. Kidd did receive five other nominations. Those nominations include three for choreography (Subways Are for Sleeping, Skyscraper and The Rothschilds) and two for direction (The Rothschilds and The Goodbye Girl). The latter, which starred Bernadette Peters in the title role, was Mr. Kidd's final Broadway credit.

In addition to his stage success, Mr. Kidd also enjoyed a Hollywood career. He staged dances and musical numbers for "The Band Wagon," "Knock on Wood," "Guys and Dolls," "Li'l Abner," "Star!" and "Movie Movie" and is credited with choreographing "Where's Charley?," "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," "Merry Andrew" and "Hello, Dolly!" Mr. Kidd also appeared in a handful of films: "Happy Days Are Here Again," "It's Always Fair Weather," "Smile," "Movie Movie" and "Skin Deep." He and Peter Anastos were Emmy-nominated for their choreography for the 1982 TV special "Baryshnikov in Hollywood."

Mr. Kidd was awarded an Honorary Academy Award in 1997 "in recognition of his services to the art of the dance in the art of the screen." He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996 from the American Choreography Awards, USA. Mr. Kidd was born Michael Greenwald in Brooklyn, NY. He attended City College of New York, but left the college when he received a scholarship to the School of American Ballet in 1937. He was married twice: to Mary Heater, which ended in divorce; and to Shelah Hackett, who survives him. He is also survived by four children: Kristine Kidd and Susan Kidd, from his first marriage; and Amy Kidd and Matthew Kidd, from his second.

Mr. Kidd, the New York Times says, defined his dances as "human behavior and people's manners, stylized into musical rhythmic forms." "I always use real-life gestures, and most of my dancing is based on real life," Mr. Kidd once said.

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