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Donna McKechnie

Donna McKechnie

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: November 16, 1942 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Pontiac, Michigan, USA Profession: dancer, singer, actor, dance teacher, choreographer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

In the theater, a journeyman dancer is referred to as a gypsy. If there ever was a candidate for queen of those gypsies, Donna McKechnie could certainly fill the bill. The petite brunette has had the distinction of being directed by several of the stage's most prominent dance masters (notably Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett, to whom she was briefly married). She has made her mark in groundbreaking musicals and earned high praise for her acting and singing in revivals of classic shows. While she may not be well-known outside of select audiences, those who have been privileged to see her perform won't soon forget her sparkling theatricality and dynamic moves. In a career that has spanned more than 40 years, McKechnie remains at the top of her game.

In the theater, a journeyman dancer is referred to as a gypsy. If there ever was a candidate for queen of those gypsies, Donna McKechnie could certainly fill the bill. The petite brunette has had the distinction of being directed by several of the stage's most prominent dance masters (notably Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett, to whom she was briefly married). She has made her mark in groundbreaking musicals and earned high praise for her acting and singing in revivals of classic shows. While she may not be well-known outside of select audiences, those who have been privileged to see her perform won't soon forget her sparkling theatricality and dynamic moves. In a career that has spanned more than 40 years, McKechnie remains at the top of her game.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Twirl (1981) Louise Jordan
3.
 Little Prince, The (1974) Rose
8.
 Little Mermaid, The (1987) Anemone
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Detroit, Michigan
:
As a teenager, ran away from what she terms a "dysfunctional family" and moved to NYC to join the ballet
:
Hired for the corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre
:
Appeared in holiday stage shows at Radio City Music Hall in NYC
:
Toured as a chorus dancer in "West Side Story"
1961:
Broadway debut as dancer in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"; first experience working with Bob Fosse (who choreographed) and Gwen Verdon (who served as dance captain)
1963:
Toured as Philia in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"
1965:
Credited as choreography assistant on the feature "Billie", starring Patty Duke
:
Was a regular dancer on "Hullaballo" (NBC); first meeting with Michael Bennett who was one of the male dancers on the show
1966:
Hired by choreographer Bennett as a chorus dancer for the musical "A Joyful Noise"; fired when Dore Schary replaced the original director during the out-of-town tryout
1967:
Appeared on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In"
1968:
Had featured role in the short-lived George Abbott-directed musical "The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N"
1968:
Was a featured dancer in the hit musical "Promises, Promises", choreographed by Bennett; was one of a trio of dancers featured in the Act One closing number "Turkey Lurkey Time"
:
Toured in "Call Me Madam", starring Ethel Merman; played the Princess
1969:
Had recurring role on the popular Gothic ABC daytime serial "Dark Shadows"
1970:
Played Kathy in the Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical "Company"; had featured solo "Tick Tock" choreographed by Bennett; also appeared in Los Angeles production
1971:
Co-starred as Ivy Smith ("Miss Turnstiles") in a revival of "On the Town", featuring Bernadette Peters, Phyllis Newman and Remark Ramsay
1972:
London stage debut reprising Kathy in "Company"
1973:
Appeared in and choreographed the one-night only benefit production "Sondheim: A Musical Tribute"
:
Assisted Bob Avian and Michael Bennett in taping dancers' recollections and stories that would eventually form the basis for "A Chorus Line"
1974:
Portrayed the Rose in the film version of "The Little Prince", directed by Stanley Donen
1975:
Created signature role of Cassie, a chorus dancer who had enjoyed some success as a featured player and is now back on the audition circuit, in the long-running, award-winning "A Chorus Line"; won Tony Award
1976:
Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis; revealed condition in a 1986 interview with <i>The New York Times</i> after she had recovered from it by altering her diet and seeing a psychologist
1979:
Had rare non-musical stage role in "Wine Untouched"
1981:
Acted in the satiric TV-movie "Twirl" (NBC)
1982:
Made guest appearance on "Cheers" (NBC)
:
Had recurring role on the syndicated series "Fame"
1986:
Returned to "A Chorus Line" on Broadway and once again essayed role of Cassie; also played role in Japan
1987:
Headlined a tour "Sweet Charity", directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse
:
Played Annie Oakley in "Annie Get Your Gun"; performed in California and in Florida
:
Performed in "Can-Can" in London between gigs as Annie Oakley
1993:
Reunited with most of the original cast for a concert staging of "Company" in Long Beach, California and in NYC
1993:
Appeared in the ill-fated "Annie Warbucks", a sequel to the 1977 hit "Annie", based on the comic strip "Little Orphan Annie"
:
Debuted one-person stage show "Inside the Music"
:
Played Phyllis Stone in a BBC radio production of "Follies"
:
Toured in and then co-starred on Broadway in stage musical version of "State Fair"
1998:
Garnered praise for portrayal of Sally Durant Plummer in the Paper Mill Playhouse revival of "Follies"
2000:
Appeared as Lela McGrath in the stage musical "Ginger", a biography of Ginger Rogers; reprised role in London workshop in fall 2001
2000:
Played Desiree Armfeldt in Massachusetts staging of "A Little Night Music"
2000:
Cast as Lotte in the L.A. Reprise! production of "Mack and Mabel"
2001:
Played Mama Rose in "Gypsy" at the Great Lakes Theater Festival
2001:
Performed in "An Evening With Donna McKechnie: My Musical Comedy Life", a version of her one-woman show at Arci's Place in NYC
2001:
Starred in the stage musical "Sheba", based on "Come Back, Little Sheba", performed at Lucille Lortel's White Barn Theatre & Museum
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

HB Studio: New York , New York -

Notes

Some sources list 1940 as the year of Ms. McKechnie's birth.

In response to an query about the best advice she'd ever receieved, Donna McKechnie replied:

"Bob Fosse told me never to compete with anybody else ... just yourself. Always ask yourself if you can do better and if you can, then do it and not just as a performer as a person also. Keep trying to be better in every way -- and then he said 'Save your Money!'" --From Playbill.com, September 1995.

"I don't leap as high, and I don't do as many turns," she concedes, "but I'd like to think I've more than made up for that with the wisdom and experience I've gained along the way." --Donna McKechnie quoted in The Christian Science Monitor, March 9, 2001.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Michael Bennett. Director, choreographer. Married in December 1976; divorced in 1977; had worked with him on numerous shows, including "A Chorus Line"; married him despite knowing he was bisexual; became reacquainted in 1983 after six years of not speaking; he died of complications from AIDS in 1987.
companion:
Fred Astaire. Dancer, singer, actor. "dated" a couple of times while she was appearing in "A Chorus Line" in L.A.

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