The life of late Broadway and Hollywood director-choreographer Herbert Ross will be celebrated noon Dec. 17 at the Majestic Theatre, 247 W. 44th Street in Manhattan.
The public is invited. Ross, the Broadway choreographer who would become a film director and helm a clutch of Neil Simon movies, plus the dance related "Footloose" and "The Turning Point," died Oct. 9 of heart failure.
The Brooklyn and Manhattan resident was 74 and left behind films that were memorably linked to the theatre, either by subject ("Funny Lady," "The Goodbye Girl," "The Turning Point") or by their Broadway origins ("I Ought To Be in Pictures," "The Sunshine Boys," "California Suite," "The Owl and the Pussycat").
Ross choreographed a young Barbra Streisand in her Broadway debut, I Can Get It For You Wholesale, and was the choreographer for the 1968 film, "Funny Girl," in which Streisand recreated her stage role of Fanny Brice. As a stage director, he helmed the Broadway flop, Kelly, but was a trusted choreographer on the Stephen Sondheim-Arthur Laurents experiment, Anyone Can Whistle (at the Majestic); Sondheim and Rodgers' Do I Hear a Waltz?; Dietz and Schwartz's Schnitzler-based The Gay Life; Harold Arlen and Truman Capote's House of Flowers; Schwartz and Fields' A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; and Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. He directed and choreographed the 1960 City Center revival of Finian's Rainbow. He directed Neil Simon's Chapter Two on Broadway, and it became his longest-running show.
Scheduled speakers from his more than 50 year career in ballet, theatre and film will include Leslie Browne, Barbara Cook, Robert Harling, Arthur Laurents, Marsha Mason, Mary-Louise Parker and Mike Nichols. A video tribute is also expected. Peter Bogyo is producing the event. William Baldwin Young conceived the tribute. Doors open at 11:30 AM.
Ross also directed the legendary 1985 concert revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's Follies at Avery Fisher Hall in Manhattan. The concert is preserved on video and CD. He is also credited with "additional musical staging" for Broadway's The Apple Tree. He later staged benefit concert revivals of Anyone Can Whistle and Cole Porter's Jubilee.
Ross, born Herbert David Ross, attended high school in Miami Beach, FL, and studied dance in New York City with Doris Humphrey, Helene Platova and Laird Leslie, and began his career as an actor and dancer. He made his stage debut, according to Who's Who of the American Theatre, as the Third Witch in a touring production of Macbeth, also playing Laertes in Hamlet and the Duke of Venice in Othello (1942-43).
He danced in Broadway's Follow the Girls, Bloomer Girl, Laffing Room Only, Beggar's Holiday, Look, Ma, I'm Dancin' and Inside U.S.A.
Ross' career also included TV directing and choreography, creating work for opera, nightclub performers, ballet and his own company.
His other film credits include "Nijinsky," "Footloose," "The Seven Percent Solution," "Play It Again, Sam," "Steel Magnolias" and "Pennies From Heaven." He was also a film producer. Among his cult projects was directing and producing "The Last of Sheila," the 1973 murder-mystery which had a screenplay by Sondheim and Anthony Perkins.
Ross choreographed the musical sequences in the films, "Dr. Doolittle" (1967), "Summer Holiday," "Inside Daisy Clover," "Carmen Jones" and "The Young Ones" and directed a 1958 TV version of "Wonderful Town." His first film directing credit was the 1969 movie musical, "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" starring Peter O'Toole.
Ross was married to ballerina Nora Kaye in 1959. She died of cancer in 1987. His marriage to Lee Radziwill ended in divorce.
— By Kenneth Jones