Herbert David Ross
May 13, 1927
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||October 9, 2001 74) (aged|
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Resting place||Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery|
(m. 1959;died 1987)
(m. 1988;div. 2001)
Herbert David Ross (May 13, 1927 – October 9, 2001) was an American actor, choreographer, director and producer who worked predominantly in the stage and film.
Ross was born on May 13, 1927 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Martha (Grundfast) and Louis Chester Ross,a postal clerk. His parents were Russian Jewish immigrants. When Ross was nine, his mother died and his father moved the family to Miami and opened a luncheonette.
Brooklyn is the most populous borough of New York City, with an estimated 2,648,771 residents in 2017. Named after the Dutch village of Breukelen, it borders the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Brooklyn has several bridge and tunnel connections to the borough of Manhattan across the East River, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connects it with Staten Island. Since 1896, Brooklyn has been coterminous with Kings County, the most populous county in the U.S. state of New York and the second-most densely populated county in the United States, after New York County.
After dropping out of high school, Ross went to New York to pursue an acting career but became smitten with and studied dance.
In 1942, Ross' stage debut came as "Third Witch" in a touring company of Macbeth . The next year brought his first Broadway performance credits with Something for the Boys , as a dancer.
Macbeth is a tragedy by William Shakespeare; it is thought to have been first performed in 1606. It dramatises the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake. Of all the plays that Shakespeare wrote during the reign of James I, who was patron of Shakespeare's acting company, Macbeth most clearly reflects the playwright's relationship with his sovereign. It was first published in the Folio of 1623, possibly from a prompt book, and is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy.
Something for the Boys is a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter and a book by Herbert Fields and Dorothy Fields. Produced by Mike Todd, the show opened on Broadway in 1943 and starred Ethel Merman in her fifth Cole Porter musical.
Ross was a dancer in Follow the Girls (1943-44), Laffing Room Only (1944-45), Beggar's Holiday (1946-47), and Look, Ma, I'm Dancin'! .
Follow the Girls is a musical with a book by Guy Bolton, Eddie Davis and Fred Thompson and music and lyrics by Dan Shapiro, Milton Pascal, and Phil Charig.
Laffing Room Only is a vaudeville revue in two acts by Ole Olsen, Chic Johnson, and Eugene Conrad, with music and lyrics by Burton Lane. This was the first show for which Burton Lane wrote both the words and the music. It was produced by the Shuberts, Olsen, and Johnson at the Winter Garden Theatre, New York City, opening December 23, 1944. Laffing Room Only was staged by John Murray Anderson, with comedy directed by Edward Cline, music directed by John McManus, dances by Robert Alton, settings by Stewart Chaney, and costumes by Billy Livingston. The production was supervised by Harry Kaufman. It ran for 232 performances, closing on July 14, 1945.
Beggar's Holiday is a musical with a book and lyrics by John La Touche and music by Duke Ellington.
By 1950, he was a choreographer with the American Ballet Theatre and choreographed his first Broadway production, the Arthur Schwartz-Dorothy Fields musical adaptation of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1951).
American Ballet Theatre (ABT) is a classical ballet company based in New York City. It has an annual eight-week season at the Metropolitan Opera House in the spring and a shorter season at the David H. Koch Theater in the fall; the company tours around the world the rest of the year. ABT was founded in 1939 by Lucia Chase and Richard Pleasant and is recognized as one of the world's leading classical ballet companies. ABT is the parent company of the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, and was recognized as "America's National Ballet Company" in 2006 by the United States Congress.
Arthur Schwartz was an American composer and film producer.
Dorothy Fields was an American librettist and lyricist. She wrote over 400 songs for Broadway musicals and films. Her best-known pieces include "The Way You Look Tonight" (1936), "A Fine Romance" (1936), "On the Sunny Side of the Street" (1930), "Don't Blame Me" (1948), "Pick Yourself Up" (1936), "I'm in the Mood for Love" (1935), "You Couldn't Be Cuter" (1938) and "Big Spender" (1966). Throughout her career, she collaborated with various influential figures in the American musical theater, including Jerome Kern, Cy Coleman, Irving Berlin, and Jimmy McHugh. Along with Ann Ronell, Dana Suesse, Bernice Petkere, and Kay Swift, she was one of the first successful Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood female songwriters.
For TV he choreographed All Star Revue , The Milton Berle Show , and The Steve Allen Plymouth Show . Ross's first film assignment came as an uncredited choreographer on Carmen Jones (1954).
Carmen Jones is a 1954 American musical film starring Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte, produced and directed by Otto Preminger. The screenplay by Harry Kleiner is based on the lyrics and book by Oscar Hammerstein II, from the 1943 stage musical of the same name, set to the music of Georges Bizet's 1875 opera Carmen. The opera was an adaptation of the 1845 Prosper Mérimée novella Carmen by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy.
Back on Broadway he choreographed House of Flowers (1954) for Peter Brook, and The Body Beautiful (1958). He choreographed some TV specials: The Jerry Lewis Show (1957), Wonderful Town (1958), Meet Me in St Louis (1959) and A Christmas Festival (1959). On Broadway Ross directed and choreographed a revival of Finian's Rainbow (1960).
House of Flowers is a musical by Harold Arlen and Truman Capote, based on his own short story, first published in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958). This was Capote's first musical, and was the first theatrical production outside of Trinidad and Tobago to feature the new Caribbean instrument—the steel pan. It was produced by Saint Subber who was also responsible for Kiss Me, Kate and seven plays by Neil Simon.
Peter Stephen Paul Brook, CH, CBE is an English theatre and film director who has been based in France since the early 1970s. He has won multiple Tony and Emmy Awards, a Laurence Olivier Award, the Praemium Imperiale, and the Prix Italia. He has been called "our greatest living theatre director".
The Body Beautiful is a musical with a book by Joseph Stein and Will Glickman, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and music by Jerry Bock.
Ross went to England where he choreographed the feature film The Young Ones (1961) , starring Cliff Richard.
He returned to Broadway to be musical director on The Gay Life (1961-62) and I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1962), the latter directed by Arthur Laurents and starring Barbra Streisand. He did Bondage Gladiator Sexy (1961) for TV.
Ross then choreographed a second Cliff Richard musical in England, Summer Holiday (1963).
On Broadway he choreographed Tovarich (1963) with Vivien Leigh and Anyone Can Whistle (1964) with Laurents.
For TV he did musical numbers for The Fantasticks (1964), The Bell Telephone Hour , Rinaldo in camp ((1963), and The Nut House!! (1964) and staged numbers for the films Inside Daisy Clover (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and Doctor Dolittle (1967).
On Broadway Ross directed and choreographed Kelly (1965), and choreographed Do I Hear a Waltz? (1965) and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1965-66). He did some additional staging on The Apple Tree (1966-67) directed by Mike Nichols.
Ross was choreographer and director of musical numbers for Funny Girl (1968), produced by Ray Stark.
His film directorial debut came with the musical version of Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), made by MGM-British, with Peter O'Toole and Petula Clark. It was produced by Arthur Jacobs who had made Dr Doolittle.
It was a box office disappointment, but Ross' second feature as director, The Owl and the Pussycat (1970), produced by Stark and starring Streisand, was a big hit.
Ross did T.R. Baskin (1971) then Play It Again, Sam (1972), the latter produced by Jacobs and starring Woody Allen based on his play.
Ross made The Last of Sheila (1973) and Funny Lady (1975) with Stark Streisand.
He did The Sunshine Boys (1975) based on a play and script by Neil Simon, starting a long collaboration between the two men; Stark produced.
Ross directed The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976), and The Turning Point (1977); Ross produced the latter.
Ross had two big hits with Simon scripts produced by Stark, The Goodbye Girl (1977) and California Suite (1978). Ross returned to Broadway to direct Neil Simon's Chapter Two (1977-79).
After doing the ballet film Nijinsky (1980)he directed Simon's I Ought to Be in Pictures (1980-81) on Broadway. He followed this with Pennies from Heaven (1981) and the film version of I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982). His last film with Simon was Max Dugan Returns (1983).
Ross had a huge hit with Footloose (1984). He followed this with two comedies, Protocol (1984) with Goldie Hawn and The Secret of My Success (1987) with Michael J. Fox. Less successful was Dancers (1987).
Ross had one last big hit with another play adaptation, Steel Magnolias (1989). He did My Blue Heaven (1990), True Colors (1991), Undercover Blues (1993) and Boys on the Side (1995).
In 1959, he married Nora Kaye, a ballerina,with whom he produced four films. In 1987, when Ross was 60, he was widowed as his wife Nora succumbed to cancer.
In September 1988, he married for the second time to Lee Radziwiłł,the younger sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The marriage ended in divorce in 2001, shortly before his death. In 2013, Radziwiłł described their relationship as follows:
He was certainly different from anybody else I'd been involved with, and the film world sounded exciting. Well, it wasn't. I hated Hollywood, and the provincialism of the industry ... Herbert had been married to the ballerina Nora Kaye until she died, and unbeknownst to me was still obsessed by her. It was 'Nora said this, Nora did it like that, Nora liked brown and orange.'
On October 9, 2001, Ross died from heart failure in New York City.A memorial was held for him at the Majestic Theater on West 44th Street in New York where Leslie Browne, Barbara Cook, Arthur Laurents, Marsha Mason, Mike Nichols and Mary-Louise Parker spoke of Ross. He was interred with Kaye in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
|Play||1942||Macbeth||actor (Third Witch)||Debut (touring company)|
|Play||1943||Something for the Boys||Debut (Broadway), music and lyrics by Cole Porter|
|Play||1944||Laffing Room Only|
|Play||1948||"Look, Ma, I'm Dancin'!"|
|Play||1950||American Ballet Theatre||choreographer|
|Play||1951||A Tree Grows in Brooklyn||choreographer||Debut (Broadway production)|
|Play||1952||Three Wishes for Jamie||choreographer||Broadway|
|Film||1954||Carmen Jones||choreographer, uncredited||Debut (Film)|
|Play||1954||House of Flowers||choreographer||Broadway|
|Play||1958||The Body Beautiful||choreographer||Broadway|
|TV||1958||Wonderful Town||director||Debut (TV film)|
|Play||1960||Finian's Rainbow||choreographer||Broadway, revival|
|Play||1961||The Gay Life||choreographer||Broadway|
|Film||1961||The Young Ones||choreographer||Cliff Richard|
|Play||1962||I Can Get It for You Wholesale||choreographer||Broadway|
|Film||1963||Summer Holiday||choreographer||Cliff Richard|
|Play||1964||Anyone Can Whistle||choreographer||Broadway, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim|
|Play||1965||Do I Hear a Waltz?||choreographer||Broadway, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim|
|Play||1965||On a Clear Day You Can See Forever||choreographer||Broadway|
|Play||1965||The Apple Tree||choreographer||Broadway|
|Film||1968||Funny Girl||choreographer||musical numbers with Barbra Streisand|
|Film||1969||Goodbye, Mr. Chips||director||Debut (Film director), 2 Academy Award nominations.|
|Film||1970||The Owl and the Pussycat||director||Barbra Streisand|
|Film||1971||T.R. Baskin||director||Peter Hyams|
|Film||1972||Play It Again, Sam||director||Woody Allen|
|Film||1973||The Last of Sheila||director, producer||Debut (Film producer)|
|Film||1975||The Sunshine Boys||director||4 Academy Award nominations. The film won Best Supporting Actor.|
Neil Simon's play
|Film||1975||Funny Lady||director||5 Academy Award nominations. Barbra Streisand|
|Film||1976||The Seven-Per-Cent Solution||director, producer||2 Academy Award nominations.|
|Film||1977||The Turning Point||director, producer||11 Academy Award nominations, but no wins.|
Ross won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director.
|Play||1977||Chapter Two||director||Neil Simon's play|
|Film||1977||The Goodbye Girl||director||5 Academy Award nominations. The film won Best Actor.|
|Film||1978||California Suite||director||3 Academy Award nominations. The film won Best Supporting Actress. Neil Simon's play|
|Play||1980||I Ought to Be in Pictures||director||Broadway, Neil Simon's play|
|Film||1981||Pennies From Heaven||director, producer||3 Academy Award nominations.|
|Film||1982||I Ought to Be in Pictures||director, producer||Neil Simon's play|
|Film||1983||Max Dugan Returns||director, producer||Neil Simon's play|
|Film||1984||Footloose||director||2 Academy Award nominations.|
|Film||1987||The Secret of My Success||director, producer|
|Film||1989||Steel Magnolias||director||1 Academy Award nomination for Julia Roberts.|
Biggest hit film.
Adaptation of Robert Harling's play (1987).
|Film||1990||My Blue Heaven||director, producer|
|Film||1991||True Colors||director, producer|
|Film||1991||Soapdish||executive producer||Only film project he did not direct|
|Film||1995||Boys on the Side||director, producer||Last film |
The film was entered into the 19th Moscow International Film Festival.
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Lee Bouvier Radziwill (younger sister of the late former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis), and Herbert Ross were married yesterday evening at the bride's home in New York by Justice E. Leo Milonas of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, First Department. After the ceremony, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the sister of the bride, gave a dinner party for the couple at her home in New York. Rudolf Nureyev, the dancer and director of the Paris Opera Ballet, and John Taras, the associate director of American Ballet Theatre, attended the couple.