Michael Kidd, the award-winning choreographer of exuberant dance numbers for Broadway shows
and Hollywood musicals
, died Sunday night at his home in Los Angeles. The cause was cancer, said his nephew, Robert Greenwald. Biographical sources generally give Mr. Kidd's age as 88, but Greenwald said his uncle was actually 92.
On Broadway, Mr. Kidd won five Tony Awards: for
Guys and Dolls
in 1957, and
Destry Rides Again
In 1996, he received a special Academy Award "in recognition of his services to the art of dance in the art of the screen."
Perhaps his best-known film work was in 1954 in Stanley Donen's
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
, a musical of the American frontier whose dances were created by Mr. Kidd for ballet dancers who were not supposed to appear balletic. Mr. Kidd defined his choreography as "human behavior and people's manners, stylized into musical rhythmic forms."
Michael Kidd was born Michael Greenwald in Brooklyn, the son of an immigrant barber, Abraham Greenwald, and his wife, Lillian. While still at New Utrecht High School, he attended a modern dance performance and was hooked. He became a member of the corps de ballet for Lincoln Kirstein's Ballet Caravan, touring the country and dancing many roles, including the lead in
Billy the Kid
Mr. Kidd is survived by his second wife, the former dancer Shelah Hackett; his daughters Kristine Kidd and Susan Kidd, both from his first marriage, to another dancer, Mary Heater; and two children from his second marriage, Amy Kidd and Matthew Kidd.
Mr. Kidd's primary focus for any dance number was on the characters and the story. As he said to dance critic Anna Kisselgoff in 1994, "I always write a scenario first, even if it is a scenario for an emotion."
- N.Y. Times News Service