Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Godspeed David Winters

Dancer, choreographer, actor, and director David Winters died on April 23 2019 at the age of 80. Among many other roles, he played Baby John in the original, Broadway stage version of West Side Story and A-Rab in the 1961 film version.

David Winters was born in London, England on April 5 1939 in London. It was in 1953 that his family moved to the United States. A talent agent spotted him while he was dancing in a restaurant in New York City. He made his television debut in an episode of The Big Story (1949) and the following year he appeared in an episode of Studio One. In the Fifties he appeared in such shows as Love of Life, Campbell Playhouse, The Philco Television Playhouse, The Red Buttons Show, ABC Album, Lux Video Theatre, Mister Peepers, Atom Squad, The Web, The United States Steel Hour, and Naked City. He appeared as a performer on Texaco Star Theatre Starring Milton Berle and The Perry Como Show. In the Sixties he guest starred on such shows as The Detectives, Bus Stop, 77 Sunset Strip, Perry Mason, Burke's Law, Out of the Unknown and Love on a Rooftop,. After a number of years absent from acting on television, he appeared in the recurring role of Silas Bridges in the mini-series Blackbeard in 2006.

David Winters not only acted on television, but he was a director and producer as well. Mr. Winters made his directorial debut on television with two episodes of The Monkees. Over the years he would direct the TV movie Where the Girls Are (1968), the TV special The Ann Margaret Show (1968), the TV special Ann-Margret: From Hollywood with Love (1969), the TV special Raquel! (1970),  The Special London Bridge Special (1972), the TV movie Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1973), and the TV movie Steadfast Tin Soldier (1984). He served as a producer on several TV specials and the regular series The Barbara McNair Show and Rollin' on the River.

David Winters made his debut on Broadway in the 1954 revival of On Your Toes. He would go onto appear on Broadway in the productions Sandhog, Shinbone Alley, Westside Story, Gypsy, One More River, and Of Love Remembered.

David Winters worked a good deal as a choreographer, working on the Elvis Presley movie Viva Las Vegas (1964). He would also choreograph such movies as Pajama Party (1964), Girl Happy (1965), Tickle Me (1965), and Made in Paris (1966). He worked extensively as a choreographer in television, choreographing such TV specials as Ann-Margret: From Hollywood with Love, The Special London Bridge Special, and The Star Wars Holiday Special, as well as such regularly scheduled shows as Hullabaloo,Donny and Marie, and The Big Show. Reportedly, it was while he was working on Hullabaloo that he invented the dance "the Freddie",  a dance linked to the British band Freddie and the Dreamers. He also served as choreographer on Alice Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare tour and Diana Ross's The Boss tour.

David Winters made his acting debut on film in Roogie's Bump (1954). In the Fifties he appeared in the movies Rock Rock Rock! (1956) and The Last Angry Man (1959). In the Sixties he appeared in the movies West Side Story (1961), Take Her, She's Mine (1963), Captain Newman M.D. (1963), The New Interns (1964), and The Crazy-Quilt (1966). In the Eighties he appeared in the film The Last Horror Film (1982). In the Naughts and the Teens he appeared in the films Welcome 2 Ibiza (2003), Hanuman klook foon (2008), 10 timer til Paradis (2012), Dragonwolf (2013), and Dancin': It's On (2015).  He also directed films as well. He made his directorial debut with the concert film Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare (1975). He would go onto direct such films as Racquet (1979), The Last Horror Film (1982), Mission Kill (1986), Space Mutiny (1988), Fight and Revenge (1997), Welcome 2 Ibiza (2003), and Dancin': It's On! (2015).

David Winters was among the best choreographers of mid to late Twentieth Century. He both directed and choreographed a number of well-know TV specials, including Movin' with Nancy (for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award), The Ann Margret Show, Ann-Margret: From Hollywood with Love (for which he was nominated for another Emmy Award), and Raquel. While he did not invent the Watusi, Mr. Winters was the first one to choreograph for television (it was on the TV show Hullabaloo). He invented "the Freddie." David Winters would leave a mark in popular culture in a way that few choreographers have.

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