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Pasadena, California
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Pasadena, California

Charles Walters was a choreographer and film director in Hollywood. From the 1940s until the 1960s, he worked for ‘Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’ Studios Inc (‘MGM’), a well-known American media corporation, on comedies and musicals. Prior to his tenure with the ‘MGM,’ he remained a dancer and choreographed several ‘Broadway’ musicals, including ‘Let’s Face It!’ and ‘Sing Out the News.’ ‘Summer Holiday,’ ‘Best Foot Forward,’ ‘Meet Me in St. Louis,’ ‘Girl Crazy,’ and ‘Du Barry Was a Lady’ are just a few of the prominent musical films that featured artists dancing to his choreography. For ‘MGM,’ he directed a number of musicals that were both popular and financially successful. ‘High Society,’ ‘Easter Parade,’ ‘The Barkleys of Broadway,’ ‘Billy Rose’s Jumbo,’ and ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ are just a few examples. Several prominent stars from MGM worked in his musicals, including Esther Williams, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Peter Lawford. Following his success in musicals, he went on to prove his mettle in the comedy genre, starring in films such as ‘Don’t Go Near the Water,’ ‘Ask Any Girl,’ and ‘Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,’ to name a few. His picture ‘Lily,’ which he directed in 1953, earned him a ‘Academy Award’ nomination for Best Director. At 6402 Hollywood Boulevard, he has a star on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame.’

Childhood and Adolescence

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, in the United States, on November 17, 1911.
In Los Angeles, he studied at the ‘University of Southern California.’

Career of Charles Walters

Prior to his time in Hollywood, he spent about 8 years on Broadway, largely as a dancer. In 1938, he choreographed his debut show. ‘Sing Out the News’ (1938–39) and ‘Let’s Face It!’ (1941–43) were two Broadway musicals he choreographed.

Robert Altman, an American film director, producer, and screenwriter, introduced him to ‘MGM,’ after which he began staging routines for cinematic projects. Beginning with a number of the 1943 musical ‘Du Barry Was A Lady,’ in which Walters had the opportunity to work with American dancer, actor, singer, film director-producer, and choreographer Gene Kelly, he went on to stage musical numbers with Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, and June Allyson, among others.

He eventually became a close friend of Garland’s and appeared in several of her films with her.
He worked on some of MGM’s best musical pictures and eventually became one of the company’s leading dance directors. These included the 1943 film ‘Best Foot Forward,’ an adaptation of the 1941 Broadway musical comedy of the same name; the 1943 version of ‘Girl Crazy,’ in which he starred alongside Judy Garland; the 1944 film ‘Meet Me in St. Louis,’ in which he choreographed ‘Brazilian Boogie,’ and the 1948 film ‘Summer Holiday,’ which was based on Eugene O’Neill’s 1933 play ‘Ah

Walters choreographed parts of films like ‘Ziegfeld Follies,’ a 1945 musical comedy, and ‘The Harvey Girls,’ a 1946 musical picture based on Samuel Hopkins Adams’ 1942 novel. He directed the 10-minute short film ‘Spreadin’ the Jam’ in 1945. Helen Boyce, Ben Lessy, and Jan Clayton starred in the film, which was scripted by Sid Kuller.

With the ‘MGM’ Technicolor musical ‘Good News,’ a second remake of a 1927 theater production of the same name, he made his first feature film as a director in 1947. (the first adaptation being the 1930 film of same title). Although the picture, which starred Joan McCracken, Mel Tormé, June Allyson, and Peter Lawford, was a box office flop with a reported loss of $7,000, it earned Blane, Martin, and Edens an Academy Award nomination for their song ‘Pass That Peace Pipe.’

However, his work as a director, which included extensive use of pans, crane shots, and tracking shots, was well received by ‘MGM,’ which saw him direct his next musical film, ‘Easter Parade,’ in 1948, which starred Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, and Peter Lawford and was produced by noted producer Arthur Freed. It was a box office hit, being the highest-grossing film of the year.

His following picture, again a Technicolor musical, ‘The Barkleys of Broadway,’ released on May 4, 1949, reunited Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers after a ten-year hiatus and remained the popular on-screen duo’s final collaboration. The picture was a box office triumph, as well as receiving positive reviews from reviewers. Walters’ other significant musical films are ‘Summer Stock’ (1950) and ‘High Society’ (1961). (1956).

In 1951, he ventured into non-musical territory with the black-and-white “MGM” feature “Three Guys Named Mike,” which ‘Turner Classic Movies’ described as a “lighthearted and lightweight plot.” A profit of $577,00 was made on the picture.

On March 10, 1953, he released his second important film, ‘Lili.’ His outstanding direction in the picture starring Leslie Caron, Mel Ferrer, Jean-Pierre Aumont, and Zsa Zsa Gabor earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Music, as well as nods for Best Actress, Best Writing, Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction. It made $1,878,000 in earnings and became ‘MGM’s most popular musical film of the year.

His Metrocolor comedy film ‘Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,’ which was released on March 31, 1960, became one of the year’s biggest grossing films, making $1,842,000 in profit. This household comedy stars Doris Day and David Niven and was based on Jean Kerr’s book of the same name.

Debbie Reynolds starred in Walters’ 1964 musical film ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown.’ Her performance in the film garnered her a ‘Academy Award’ nomination for Best Actress, which was her sole ‘Oscar’ nomination in her career.
‘Walk, Don’t Run,’ a Technicolor romantic comedy he directed for ‘Columbia Pictures’ in 1966, was the only picture he directed for a non-‘MGM’ production in a 25-year period.

The film, which starred Cary Grant in the lead role, was also Grant’s final appearance in a feature film. This film was a remake of George Stevens’ 1943 comedy film ‘The More the Merrier,’ and it ended up being the year’s 23rd highest grossing film.

After leaving the big screen, he worked on a number of TV projects, including directing Lucille Ball in a pair of made-for-TV movies. In the TV sitcom series ‘Here’s Lucy,’ he also directed Lucille Ball.
He stepped down as a director in 1976.

Personal History and Legacy

He died on August 13, 1982, in Malibu, California, at the age of 72, following a long battle with lung cancer. In his book ‘Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance,’ Brent Phillips paints him as gay.

Estimated Net Worth

Charles is one of the wealthiest stage actors and one of the most well-known. Charles Walters net worth is estimated to be $47.8 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.