Michael Kidd was an award-winning American choreographer who revolutionized choreography on the American stage and screen over the course of his long and fruitful career. He was well renowned for his vibrant and enthusiastic shows that thrilled spectators and made them want to groove along. He reached the zenith of his career with the dance scenes in ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.’ During the 1940s and 1950s, he is recognized with directing and staging some of the most popular Broadway and cinema musicals of the time. He established the approach of “integrated musical,” in which dance motions are inherent to the plot, as an instinctive dancer to whom choreography came naturally. One of the things that set him apart from other choreographers was that his dance was primarily based on real life, with movements that people would make in their daily lives. This quality helped him gain a lot of popularity because even people who didn’t know how to dance could relate to his performances. He received numerous accolades for his work, including becoming the first choreographer to win five Tony Awards. He was also given an honorary Academy Award for his contributions to the art of dance.
Childhood and Adolescence
Abraham Greenwald and his wife Lillian had him on August 12, 1915, in New York City. His father was a barber, and he and Lillian were both Czarist Russian immigrants.
He attended New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn after his family relocated there. He became interested in dancing and studied with Blanche Evan, a choreographer and dancer.
He eventually decided to pursue a career in engineering and enrolled at City College in New York to pursue a degree in chemical engineering. He was given a scholarship at the School of American Ballet, so he dropped out of City College to pursue his passion.
Career of Michael Kidd
He joined Lincoln Kirstein’s Ballet Caravan’s corps de ballet and toured the country, playing a variety of roles, including the lead in Eugene Loring’s ‘Billy the Kid.’
When he began dancing for Ballet Theater in 1942, he took the name “Michael Kidd” (now called American Ballet Theater). In 1945, the company granted him the opportunity to compose his own ballet, ‘On Stage.’
Kidd was regarded as one of the great promises of postwar American dance after the release of ‘On Stage.’ Kidd, on the other hand, quickly lost interest in dance and quit the company.
In 1947, he began playing on Broadway. His debut Broadway choreography was for the musical ‘Finian Rainbow,’ which dealt with racial prejudice. It was well received, but he did not have the same success with his subsequent musicals.
He choreographed Frank Loesser’s ‘Guys and Dolls,’ which was a hit and won him a Tony Award in 1950. The musical became one of the best musicals in theater history thanks to songs like “Adelaide.”
Following his Broadway breakthrough, he moved to Hollywood and choreographed the film ‘Where’s Charley?’ in 1952, which was based on Frank Loesser’s popular Broadway musical of the same name.
In 1954, he choreographed Stanley Donen’s Hollywood musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” In the film, there was a barn-raising scenario that became known as one of the most extravagant dance performances ever seen on screen.
Kidd, who had previously performed on stage, decided to put his acting skills to the test in the movies. He made his film acting debut in the 1955 musical ‘It’s Always Fair Weather,’ in which he co-starred with Dan Dailey and Gene Kelly.
He directed and choreographed ‘Merry Andrew,’ a musical film starring Danny Kaye, in 1958. The music was composed by Saul Chaplin, while the words were penned by Johnny Mercer.
By the late 1950s, he was directing and choreographing Broadway shows such as ‘Destry Rides Again’ (1959), ‘Wildcat’ (1960), ‘Subways Are for Sleeping’ (1961), and ‘Ben Franklin in Paris’ (1964). He also choreographed the film ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s,’ which was never released.
During the 1970s, he began performing supporting roles in films, such as the sarcastic choreographer for a beauty competition in the 1975 film ‘Smile.’ Film critic Roger Ebert praised his portrayal as a “finely carved semiautobiographical performance.”
He directed and choreographed television shows and music videos in the 1980s and 1990s, including ‘When I Think of You’ (1986) and ‘Alright’ (1990).
Achievements and Awards
Kidd was the first choreographer to garner five Tony Awards, the first for the lyrical musical “Finian’s Rainbow.” Over the course of his career, he got nine Tony Award nominations.
He received an honorary Academy Award in 1997 “for his contributions to the art of dance in the art of the film.”
Personal History and Legacy
In 1945, he married ballerina Mary Heater. The couple had two daughters before divorcing.
He married Shelah Hackett for the second time in 1969, and they had a son and a daughter together. The pair wedded for the rest of their lives.
He had a long and fruitful life. During his final years, he developed cancer and died on December 23, 2007, at the age of 92.
Estimated Net Worth
Michael Kidd is one of the wealthiest and most popular dancers. Michael Kidd has a net worth of $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.