Michael Kidd


Choreographer
Michael Kidd

About

Also Known As
Milton Greenwald
Birth Place
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Born
August 12, 1919
Died
December 23, 2007
Cause of Death
Cancer

Biography

This Brooklyn-born trained dancer had concurrent careers in Hollywood and on Broadway for much of the 1950s and later worked on several notable, if somewhat overblown, musicals.Born Milton Greenwald, Michael Kidd first rose to prominence in the early 1940s as a soloist with Lincoln Kirstein's Ballet Caravan and Eugene Loring's Dance Players. By the middle of the decade, he had begun to m...

Family & Companions

Mary Heater
Wife
Dancer. Married July 30, 1940; divorced.
Shelah Hackett
Wife
Former dancer.

Biography

This Brooklyn-born trained dancer had concurrent careers in Hollywood and on Broadway for much of the 1950s and later worked on several notable, if somewhat overblown, musicals.

Born Milton Greenwald, Michael Kidd first rose to prominence in the early 1940s as a soloist with Lincoln Kirstein's Ballet Caravan and Eugene Loring's Dance Players. By the middle of the decade, he had begun to move into choreography and landed his first Broadway assignment in 1947, staging the musical numbers for "Finian's Rainbow." His success was sealed with the first of five Tony Awards and Kidd went on to stage some of the seminal Broadway musicals of the 50s, including "Guys and Dolls" (1950) and Cole Porter's "Can-Can" (1953), which made a star out of Gwen Verdon. By the mid-50s, he added directing to his resume, beginning with "Li'l Abner" (1956) and including "Wildcat" (1960), starring Lucille Ball, "Ben Franklin in Paris" (1964), with Robert Preston, and "The Rothschilds" (1970-71), which raised Hal Linden to stardom. He remained active in the theatre throughout the 80s and into the 90s.

Kidd's feature work began with "Where's Charley?" (1952), starring Ray Bolger. While the film was somewhat erratically paced, Kidd's dance numbers, particularly the "Pernambuco" ballet sequence, received praise. MGM hired Kidd to handle the dance sequences for Vincente Minnelli's "The Band Wagon" (1953), starring Fred Astaire in a cannibalized version of his 1931 stage hit. Kidd, in collaboration with Astaire, fashioned a number of dazzling musical sequences, including "Triplets," featuring Astaire, Nanette Fabray and Jack Buchanan as three spoiled babies, and "Girl Hunt," a ballet sequence which satirized film noir detectives. Kidd's best screen work may be 1954's "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," directed by Stanley Donen. Working with stage-trained dancers like Jacques D'Amboise, Marc Platt and Julie Newmar (billed as Julie Newmeyer), the choreographer created rousing numbers combining ballet with athletic movement. Nearly all critics cite the barn-raising number as the film's highlight.

After recreating his stage work for the film version of "Guys and Dolls" (1954) and making his acting debut alongside Dan Dailey and Gene Kelly in "It's Always Fair Weather" (1955), Kidd moved behind the camera for the Danny Kaye vehicle, "Merry Andrew" (1958). While many felt that Kidd's direction was assured, the film was perceived as lacking the spark of some of Kaye's earlier efforts. Kidd went on to recreate the musical numbers for "Li'l Abner" (1959), but the heyday of the musical was beginning to wane and it would be nearly a decade before he returned to features. Robert Wise tapped him to stage the elaborate production numbers for "Star!" (1968), the overproduced biopic of stage actress Gertrude Lawrence portrayed by Julie Andrews. Kidd's lavish numbers, especially "The Saga of Jenny" (from "Lady in the Dark"), remain one of the pleasures of this uneven film. Subsequently, Kidd worked on yet another overblown production, Gene Kelly's "Hello, Dolly!" (1969), with a miscast Barbra Streisand. One of the last of the big screen musicals, "Hello, Dolly!" neither captured the charm nor the truly inspired staging of the original stage production. (The latter had featured memorable work from director-choreographer Gower Champion).

For much of the 70s, Kidd concentrated on theater, returning to the screen to offer a wonderful performance as a down on his luck choreographer working at a beauty contest in Michael Ritchie's minor masterpiece "Smile" (1975). For Stanley Donen's nostalgic "Movie Movie" (1978), Kidd did double duty, portraying boxer Harry Hamlin's father in one segment and staging the Busby Berkeley-inspired musical numbers for another. Kidd's last film appearance to date was in Blake Edwards' "Skin Deep" (1989). He was honored with an honorary Oscar during the 1997 telecast.

Life Events

1937

Member of the corps of Lincoln Kirstein's Ballet Caravan

1945

Choreographed and wrote "On Stage!" for Ballet Theatre

1947

Choreographed first Broadway show, "Finian's Rainbow"; won first of five Tony Awards

1952

Feature film debut as choreographer, "Where's Charley?"

1953

Began association with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, choreographed "The Band Wagon"

1955

Film acting debut, "It's Always Fair Waeather" (MGM)

1956

Made stage directing and producing debut with "Li'l Abner"; also choreographed

1958

Directorial debut with MGM's "Merry Andrew"; also choreographed

1959

Last feature work for nearly ten years, "Li'l Abner"

1968

Returned to features with "Star!"

1975

Had non-musical role in Michael Ritchie's "Smile"

1978

Returned to features to choreograph and play a small role in Stanley Donen's "Movie Movie"

1989

Last film to date, Blake Edwards' "Skin Deep"

Photo Collections

It's Always Fair Weather - Group Publicity Stills
Here are a few cast Publicity Stills taken for It's Always Fair Weather (1955), starring Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Dan Dailey, Dolores Gray, and Michael Kidd. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.

Videos

Movie Clip

Band Wagon, The (1953) - Dem Bones Cafe Michael Kidd choreography, setting designed by Oliver Smith, in the "Dem Bones Cafe" section of the "Girl Hunt" ballet, Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse generating gangster heat, in Vincente Minnelli's The Band Wagon, 1953.
Merry Andrew (1958) - Chin Up, Stout Fellow Public school teacher Andrew Larrabee (Danny Kaye) receives brothers Matthew (Noel Purcell) and Dudley (Robert Coote), who advise him to stand up to their father, his headmaster, their voices dubbed for the song by Saul Chaplin and Johnny Mercer, early in Merry Andrew, 1958.
Merry Andrew (1958) - Salud The Gallini circus family led by their patriarch (Salvatore Baccaloni) celebrates the upcoming marriage of Andrew (Danny Kaye) and their Selena (Pier Angeli), director Michael Kidd with choreography to a tune by Saul Chaplin and Johnny Mercer, in Merry Andrew, 1958.
Merry Andrew (1958) - Everything Is Tickety-Boo Now ebullient English public schoolmaster Andrew (Danny Kaye) has permission to resume his amateur archaeology, headed for Sussex with his theme song by Saul Chaplin and Johnny Mercer, spying Pier Angeli, her first appearance, in a makeshift shower, in Merry Andrew, 1958.
Band Wagon, The (1953) - Dancing In The Dark Ballerina Gaby (Cyd Charisse) and comeback-track movie star Tony (Fred Astaire) have suddenly warmed to each other, strolling in Central Park into "Dancing In The Dark," by Arthur Schwartz, choreographed by Michael Kidd, in The Band Wagon, 1953.
Band Wagon, The (1953) - A Shine On Your Shoes Faded movie star Tony (Fred Astaire) hanging in a Manhattan arcade, kicks into a famous number, Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz's "A Shine On Your Shoes," choreography by Michael Kidd, Leroy Daniels featured, in The Band Wagon, 1953.
It's Always Fair Weather (1955) - The Binge This number known as "The Binge," Andre Previn music, Gene Kelly, co-directing with Stanley Donen, as a de-mobilized WWII vet, with buddies Dan Dailey and Michael Kidd, having hit some bars after learning that his girl got married, early in It's Always Fair Weather, 1955.
It's Always Fair Weather (1955) - Once Upon A Time Perhaps the most technical of many distinctive stagings by co-directors Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly (who also co-stars), here in a three-frame number with estranged war buddies (Dan Dailey left, Michael Kidd right), to a Previn, Comden and Green tune, in It's Always Fair Weather, 1955.
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) - Come On Everybody! The Pontipee brothers, led more by tumbling Gideon (Russ Tamblyn) than eldest Adam (Howard Keel) dazzle the crowd in choreographer Michael Kidd's famous barn-raising dance from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, 1954.
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) - Stop The Fight! Having trounced the locals in an impromptu dance challenge, the Pontipee brothers wind up in a slugfest, also choreographed by Michael Kidd, in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, 1954.
Guys and Dolls (1955) - The Oldest Established Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) comiserates with pals Benny (Johnny Silver) and Nicely-Nicely (Stubby Kaye) who then join him in Frank Loesser's tune "The Oldest Established," in Guys and Dolls, 1955.
Guys And Dolls (1955) - If I Were A Bell Big treat for Jean Simmons fans, as "Sergeant" Sarah Brown, with gambler Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando) after their night out in Havana, Frank Loesser's If I Were A Bell, both actors recording their own vocals, from Guys And Dolls, 1955.

Trailer

Family

Abraham Greenwald
Father
Barber.
Lillian Greenwald
Mother
Kristine Kidd
Daughter
Mother Mary Heater.
Susan Kidd
Daughter
Mother Mary Heater.
Matthew Kidd
Son
Mother Shelah Hackett.
Amy Kidd
Daughter
Mother Shelah Hackett.

Companions

Mary Heater
Wife
Dancer. Married July 30, 1940; divorced.
Shelah Hackett
Wife
Former dancer.

Bibliography