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West Side Story actor turned 88

West Side Story actor turned 88
West Side Story actor turned 88

 


Tony Mordente, the actor, dancer and choreographer who starred in the original Broadway and big screen versions of West Side Story before embarking on a long career as a television director, died. He was 88 years old.

Mordente, who lived in Henderson, Nevada, died Tuesday, his family announcement.

Mordente also worked on Broadway as an actor, understudy and/or assistant choreographer in Little Abner, Goodbye Birdie And Ben Franklin in Paris.

The Brooklyn native performed A-Rab on stage in West Side Storywhich premiered at the Winter Garden Theater in September 1957, and played Action, another member of the Jets gang, in the 1961 United Artists adaptation. (David Winters received the role of A-Rab in the movie.)

He is married West Side Story her comrade Chita Rivera, who of course played Anita, in December 1957. “A jet marrying a shark. It was quite a thing,” he said in a 1963 interview. (Rivera died in January.)

Mordente began directing for television in 1974 and has worked on dozens of shows, including Rhoda (42 episodes from 1975 to 1978), Walker, Texas Ranger (36 episodes from 1993 to 1998) and 7th Sky (22 episodes from 1997 to 2003).

From left: Russ Tamblyn, Tucker Smith and Tony Mordente in the 1961 film West Side Story.

Courtesy of the Everett Collection

The son of a beer truck driver, Anthony Charles Mordente Jr. was born in Brooklyn on December 3, 1935. His mother “thought I had a little too much energy when I was 13, and it was also to get rid of it. on the street, so I went to dance school a few times a week,” he said.

He entered the High School of Performing Arts then received a scholarship to the American Ballet Theater School, where he was discovered by Michael Kidd. The famous choreographer then entrusted him with the role of the solitary polecat in Little Abnerwhich debuted in 1956 and starred Peter Palmer as the title character.

He left to join West Side Story and was with this production for 14 months. When he moved to London, he served as choreographer to Jerome Robbins and later supervised the dancers when the show was performed in the United States.

While dating Rivera, “the Jet Boys didn't talk to me for about two weeks of rehearsal, I was completely left out.” I mean, they were really angry,” he said. said in an interview with PBS in 2007.

“Finally, I sat down with them in the locker room and just said, 'Hey, listen guys, I'm with the Jets. What I do there is my personal life. We need to keep our gang together. If I'm separated from you, then we're not a family. So we have to try to get back together. And they kind of bought that. As long as they didn't see me with her, everything was fine.

After the West Side Story film, Mordente played the stage manager in the years 1960-61 Goodbye Birdie, with Rivera, while also serving as assistant choreographer to Gower Champion. He then worked as an assistant to the choreographer-director Kidd on Ben Franklin in Pariswith Robert Preston.

He helped Kidd again in 1966. Breakfast at Tiffany'swhich starred Richard Chamberlain and Mary Tyler Moore but ended during previews and choreographed 1968. This is where I belongwhich never made it past opening night.

Mordente was the choreographer of the 1966 film The dreamerworked with dancers on The Ed Sullivan Show, Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour And Maud and appeared as an actor on television Fight! And The outer limits.

He also directed several episodes of other series such as MASH POTATOES, Family ties, The Tony Randall Show, Angie, Hardcastle and McCormick, Matlock, Hunter, Team A, Love, Sidney, Easy street And Counter currents.

After his divorce from Rivera in 1966, he married Jean Fraser in 1978.

Survivors include her daughters, Lisa Mordente, who received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in 1982 for the musical Marloweand Adriana Mordente.

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/tony-mordente-west-side-story-1235922968/

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