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Also Known As: Herbert David Ross Died: October 9, 2001
Born: May 13, 1927 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: director, producer, dancer, choreographer, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Choreographer-director-producer Herbert Ross was best known for elevating the role of dance in film and for his ability to elicit exceptional performances out of such leading ladies as Barbara Streisand, Shirley MacLaine, Anne Bancroft and Julia Roberts. Receiving his start as a Broadway performer and choreographer with the American Ballet Theater, Ross later staged dozens of musical sequences for such films as "Carmen Jones" (1954). Although he was one of Broadway's top choreographers - notably crafting Streisand's show-stopping number in 1963's "I Can Get It for You Wholesale" - Ross yearned to direct films, a goal he achieved with "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (1969). He began to hit his stride as a director alongside rising megastars like Streisand in "The Owl and the Pussycat" (1970) and Woody Allen in "Play it Again, Sam" (1972). Shortly thereafter, he began his prolific working relationship with playwright Neil Simon on "The Sunshine Boys" (1975). At the height of his career, Ross utilized his knowledge of ballet for "The Turning Point" (1977) and reteamed with Simon on "The Goodbye Girl" (1977) to win both critical acclaim and box office gold. Less successful were risky endeavors like the...

Choreographer-director-producer Herbert Ross was best known for elevating the role of dance in film and for his ability to elicit exceptional performances out of such leading ladies as Barbara Streisand, Shirley MacLaine, Anne Bancroft and Julia Roberts. Receiving his start as a Broadway performer and choreographer with the American Ballet Theater, Ross later staged dozens of musical sequences for such films as "Carmen Jones" (1954). Although he was one of Broadway's top choreographers - notably crafting Streisand's show-stopping number in 1963's "I Can Get It for You Wholesale" - Ross yearned to direct films, a goal he achieved with "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (1969). He began to hit his stride as a director alongside rising megastars like Streisand in "The Owl and the Pussycat" (1970) and Woody Allen in "Play it Again, Sam" (1972). Shortly thereafter, he began his prolific working relationship with playwright Neil Simon on "The Sunshine Boys" (1975). At the height of his career, Ross utilized his knowledge of ballet for "The Turning Point" (1977) and reteamed with Simon on "The Goodbye Girl" (1977) to win both critical acclaim and box office gold. Less successful were risky endeavors like the Depression-era Steve Martin musical-fantasy "Pennies from Heaven" (1981). Ross still had a few more cards up his sleeve, though, as the hits "Footloose" (1984) and "Steel Magnolias" (1989) triumphantly capped off a remarkable career. Whether crafting a spectacular dance number or directing a heartfelt romance, Ross' sole ambition to entertain an audience was unwavering.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Boys on the Side (1995) Director
2.
  Undercover Blues (1993) Director
3.
  True Colors (1991) Director
4.
  My Blue Heaven (1990) Director
5.
  Steel Magnolias (1989) Director
6.
  Dancers (1987) Director
7.
8.
  Protocol (1984) Director
9.
  Footloose (1984) Director
10.
  Max Dugan Returns (1983) Director

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1942:
Stage debut as Third Witch in touring company of "Macbeth"
:
Worked as dancer on Broadway
1950:
Began choreography career with American Ballet Theatre
1951:
First Broadway show as choreographer, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"
1954:
Began directing musical numbers for Broadway shows (i.e., "House of Flowers")
1954:
First film as choreographer, "Carmen Jones"
1955:
Began writing and directing nightclub and cabaret acts, first for Eddie Albert and Margo and later Constance Bennett, Imogene Coca and Leslie Uggams, among others
1959:
Resident choreographer with American Ballet Theatre
1960:
Directed and choreographed the City Center revival of "Finian's Rainbow"
1962:
Directed Barbara Streisand's show-stopping number as Miss Marmelstein in the Broadway musical "I Can Get It for You Wholesale"
1963:
Choreographed the stage musical "Tovarich", starring Vivian Leigh
1964:
First collaboration with Stephen Sondheim, staged the cult musical "Anyone Can Whistle"; book by Arthur Laurents
1965:
Staged the musical numbers for "Do I Hear a Waltz?", based on Laurents' "The Time of the Cuckoo"; music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Sondheim
1966:
Last Broadway show as choreographer, "The Apple Tree"
1968:
Reunited with Streisand as choreographer and director of musical numbers for the film "Funny Girl"
1969:
First film as director, the musical remake of "Goodbye Mr. Chips", starring Peter O'Toole
1970:
Directed Streisand in her first non-musical role, "The Owl and the Pussycat"; first time as producer
1973:
Helmed "The Last of Sheila", a mystery co-written by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim
1975:
First film adapted from a Neil Simon play, "The Sunshine Boys"
1975:
Directed Streisand again in the film sequel "Funny Lady"
1976:
Produced and directed the Sherlock Holmes pastiche "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution"
1977:
Helmed Simon's "Chapter Two" on Broadway
1977:
Had box-office hit with Simon's "The Goodbye Girl"
1977:
Produced and directed "The Turning Point", starring Anne Bancroft, Shirley MacLaine and Mikhail Baryshnikov; film received 11 Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Director
1979:
Directed Neil Simon's play "I Ought to Be in Pictures"
1981:
Won critical acclaim but little box-office for the screen adaptation of "Pennies From Heaven"
1982:
Helmed film version of "I Ought to Be in Pictures"
1983:
Fifth and last (to date) film collaboration with Simon, "Max Dugan Returns"
1985:
Staged a concert revival of the Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical "Follies" at Lincoln Center; production taped for broadcast on PBS in 1986
1987:
Last film with Nora Kaye as producer, "Dancers"
1989:
Scored a hit with film adaptation of Robert Harling's play "Steel Magnolias", featuring Sally Field, Dolly Parton and Shirley MacLaine
1991:
Executive producer for "Soapdish", starring Sally Field
1993:
Directed a Los Angeles production of "La Boheme" and a Dallas production of it the following year
1995:
Produced and directed "Boys on the Side", eliciting three strong, appealing performances from Whoopi Goldberg, Mary-Louise Parker and Drew Barrymore
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Herbert Berghof Studio: New York , New York - 1943 - 1950

Notes

Ross received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Cancer Society in 1993.

Ross has directed 12 actors to Oscar nominations with three, George Burns, Maggie Smith and Richard Dreyfuss winning the award.

"I think what I first related to in 'Boys' is the idea that there is no more conventional family as we knew it as children. I was struck by this band of desperately alone people who form a mutual support system. I made a conscious attempt to keep it as multi-ethnic as the society we live in." --Herbert Ross to Newsday, January 31, 1995.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Nora Kaye. Ballerina, producer. Born in NYC in 1920; married on August 21, 1959 until her death on February 28, 1987 of cancer in Santa Monica, California; produced several of Ross' films including "The Turning Point"; had previously been married twice including a brief first marriage to author James T Farrell.
wife:
Lee Radziwill. Ambassador. Born on March 3, 1933; sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; was previously married and divorced twice; married in September 1988; appointed US ambassador to Hungary; Ross reportedly filed for divorce in January 2000.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Louis Chester Ross.
mother:
Martha Ross.
step-son:
Anthony Stanislas Radziwell. TV producer. Born in August 1959; died of cancer on August 11, 1999 at age 40; worked at ABC News where he won two News Emmy Awards.
step-daughter:
Anna Christina Radziwell.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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