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Tommy Tune

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Also Known As: Thomas James Tune Died:
Born: February 28, 1939 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Wichita Falls, Texas, USA Profession: actor, director, singer, dancer, choreographer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An amiable, lanky 6' 7" former chorus dancer, Tommy Tune has inherited the mantle of his mentor, the late Michael Bennett, as one of the few director-choreographers working in contemporary American theater. He is unique, however, in that he is also a musical theater star. In fact, Tune, who has won nine Tony Awards, is the only individual to have won the medallion in four different categories. Born and raised in Texas, Tune headed to NYC in the early 1960s and on his first day in Manhattan landed his first job in the chorus of a touring company of "Irma La Douce". He first worked with Michael Bennett as a chorus dancer in the Broadway show "A Joyful Noise" (1966) and had his breakthrough under Bennett's guidance, playing the first openly gay character in a musical, the choreographer David in "Seesaw" (1973-74). Tune won his first Tony as Featured Actor in a Musical for the role, which had him tap dancing to a New York State statute ("Chapter 54, Number 1909") and provided him with the showstopping, balloon-filled eleven-o'clock number "It's Not Where You Start".Despite this acclaim, Tune was not able to find a suitable follow-up role, Instead, he turned to directing with the gender-bending...

An amiable, lanky 6' 7" former chorus dancer, Tommy Tune has inherited the mantle of his mentor, the late Michael Bennett, as one of the few director-choreographers working in contemporary American theater. He is unique, however, in that he is also a musical theater star. In fact, Tune, who has won nine Tony Awards, is the only individual to have won the medallion in four different categories. Born and raised in Texas, Tune headed to NYC in the early 1960s and on his first day in Manhattan landed his first job in the chorus of a touring company of "Irma La Douce". He first worked with Michael Bennett as a chorus dancer in the Broadway show "A Joyful Noise" (1966) and had his breakthrough under Bennett's guidance, playing the first openly gay character in a musical, the choreographer David in "Seesaw" (1973-74). Tune won his first Tony as Featured Actor in a Musical for the role, which had him tap dancing to a New York State statute ("Chapter 54, Number 1909") and provided him with the showstopping, balloon-filled eleven-o'clock number "It's Not Where You Start".

Despite this acclaim, Tune was not able to find a suitable follow-up role, Instead, he turned to directing with the gender-bending Off-Broadway "The Club" (1976), which featured an all-female cast in male drag. He handled similar terrain with Caryl Churchill's "Cloud 9" (1981), which had its cast playing characters of both genders. Tune segued to choreographing and staging musicals in tandem with Thommie Walsh and Peter Masterson respectively with "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" (1978). He has gone on to earn numerous accolades and awards for his polished, stylish musical stagings of such Broadway musicals as ""A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine" (1980); "Nine" (1982), the highly-stylized musical version of Fellini's "8 1/2"; "My One and Only" (1983); the Broadway version of the film classic "Grand Hotel" (1990); and "The Will Rogers Follies" (1991).

In 1983, Tune scored a personal triumph as star, director and co-choreographer of "My One and Only", a reworking of the Gershwin musical "Funny Face". Re-teaming with British model-turned-actress Twiggy (with whom he had co-starred in Ken Russell's "The Boy Friend" in 1971). he proved a delight, invoking the ghost of Fred Astaire who had originated the role. After a long hiatus. Tune resumed performing opposite Ann Reinking in a touring company of "Bye Bye Birdie" in 1991. He has continued to perform his nightclub act "Tommy Tune Tonight!" (backed by the Manhattan Rhythm Kings) around the USA. His anticipated return to Broadway in 1995's "Busker Alley", a musicalization of the 1938 Charles Laughton starrer "St Martin's Lane", was curtailed when he broke his foot while performing in Tampa, FL. During his recovery from his injury, Tune recorded his first solo album, "Slow Dancing", and penned his memoirs. "Footnotes" (both 1997). In 1998, it was announced that he was working on a musical stage adaptation of the Irving Berlin movie musical "Easter Parade" which would team him with Sandy Duncan. A 1999 Broadway opening was anticipated.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Hello, Dolly! (1969) Ambrose Kemper
5.
 52nd Annual Tony Awards, The (1998) Presenter
7.
 49th Annual Tony Awards, The (1995) Presenter
9.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Born and raised in Texas
:
Began studying dance as a child
:
Moved to NYC; on his first day in Manhattan, auditioned for and was cast in a touring company of "Irma La Douce". starring Genevieve
1965:
Broadway debut, in chorus of musical "Baker Street"
1966:
First collaboration with Michael Bennett, a chorus role in "A Joyful Noise"
1969:
Film debut as Ambrose Kemper in "Hello, Dolly!", directed by Gene Kelly
1969:
Regular on the NBC variety series, "Dean Martin Presents the Golddiggers"
1969:
Choreographed US tour of musical "Canterbury Tales"
1971:
Had featured role in Ken Russell's film "The Boy Friend"; co-starred with Twiggy
1973:
Breakthrough stage role as the homosexual choreographer David in Michael Bennett's production of "Seesaw"; won first Tony Award
1976:
Off-Broadway directorial debut, "The Club"
1978:
Co-directed (with Peter Masterson) and co-choreographed (with Thommie Walsh) the stage musical "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas"
1980:
Directed and co-choreographed (with Walsh) "A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine"; won second Tony Award
1982:
Staged the stage musical "Nine", based on Fellini's "8 1/2"; show received five Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Director (Tune's third)
1983:
Played the leading role in the of musical "My One and Only", a reworking of the Gershwin musical "Funny Face" co-starring Twiggy; also directed and co-choreographed with Thommie Walsh; won Tony Awards as Best Actor in a Musical and Best Choreography (his fourth and fifth)
1987:
Had first failure as director with the play "Stepping Out"
1993:
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
1990:
Choreographed and directed the musical "Grand Hotel"; won sixth and seventh Tony Awards
1990:
Did uncredited staging of Shirley MacLaine's number "I'm Still Here" in Mike Nichols' "Postcards From the Edge"
1991:
Staged and choreographed "The Will Rogers Follies"; earned eighth and ninth Tony Awards; show also named Best Musical
1991:
Co-starred with Ann Reinking in a touring company of "Bye Bye Birdie"
1993:
Performed his nightclub act "Tommy Tune Tonight!", with the Manhattan Rhythm Kings
1994:
Had first Broadway flop with the sequel "The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public"
1995:
Broke foot on tour forcing cancellation of Broadway-bound musical "Busker Alley" (formerly called "Stage Door Charley"
1997:
Released first solo album "Slow Dancing"
1997:
Published his memoirs "Footnotes"
1998:
Announced to play the lead, direct, co-author book and choreograph stage musical adaptation of Irving Berlin's "Easter Parade" to co-star Sandy Duncan; production cancelled
1999:
Succeeded David Cassidy as the star of the Las Vegas musical "EFX"
2001:
Performed with The Manhattan Rhythm Kings in a touring stage show
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Education

Emmamae Horn School of Dance: Houston , Texas -
Lon Morris College: Jacksonville , Texas - 1958 - 1959
University of Texas at Austin: Austin , Texas - 1962
University of Houston: Houston , Texas - 1962 - 1963

Notes

Question: Would you consider doing a Tommy Tune sitcom?

Tune: "No! TV is too boring! What kind of perfection can you hope to achieve in a 28-minute show once a week? ... The best things on television are commercials, because they spend a lot of money and time on them."

--From nTheater, October 24, 1997.

"I did 900 shows [of 'EFX']. When the contract was over, I felt very proud that I had fulfilled it, but it was the hardest thing I ever did. I had 13 costume changes per show, which is really a lot; I hung upside down; I rose up, I came down, I flew over the audience. We did 10 shows a week in Vegas but it's two shows a night, so we actually have two days off-like a weekend-which I had never had in my life in show business." --Tommy Tune on his turn in the Las Vegas extravaganza "EFX" quoted in "Charles Nelson's Casts and Forecasts" column on the Web site Theatermania.com, January 11, 2002.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Michel Stuart. Actor, dancer, designer, producer. Died on September 7, 1997 at age 54 in an automobile accident in Malibu, CA; acted and danced in the London production of "West Side Story" and originated the role of Greg in "A Chorus Line" while it was being workshopped, and later at NY's Public Theater and on Broadway; designed clothes for Giorgio Sant'Angelo and for such Tommy Tune-directed Broadway productions as "Cloud 9" and "A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine"; Stuart also was a producer of "Cloud 9", "Nine" and "The Tap Dance Kid"; together from the early 1970s until 1976.
companion:
David Wolfe. Dancer, stage manager. Together from c. 1983 until his death from complications from AIDS on December 25, 1994.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Jim Pridemore Tune. Oil rig servicer. Born c. 1900, died in 1975 of diverticulitis.
mother:
Eva Mae Tune. Died of cancer in 1989 at age 82.
sister:
Nell Tune. Born c. 1929.
sister:
Grace Adella Tune. Born on May 17, 1949.
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Bibliography close complete biography

"Footnotes: A Memoir" Simon & Schuster

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