Michael Bennett - Nominee

1943 - 1987

Michael Bennett ran off to join a European touring company of ‘West Side Story’ after dropping out of high school. Upon his return to New York he found work dancing in several Broadway shows as well as TV shows like ‘The Dean Martin Show’. Smart and talented, he was soon eager to try his hand at choreography. His new career began with a production called ‘A Joyful Noise’ (1966) which ran only 12 performances but earned Bennett his first Tony nomination. His first Broadway hit as a choreographer was ‘Promises Promises’ (1968) followed the next year by ‘Coco’ starring Katharine Hepburn, then Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Company’ (1970). In 1971 he both choreographed and co-directed ‘Follies’, another Sondheim show, and won Tony Awards in both categories. In 1975 he directed, choreographed, and wrote ‘A Chorus Line’ which became the longest running musical on Broadway up to that time. Next came the acclaimed ’Ballroom’ (1978). His final hit was as director and co-choreographer of ‘Dreamgirls’ (1981). What made Bennett unique as a choreographer was his lack of a specific style; instead he choreographed in the manner most suitable for the characters or concept of the show. All told Michael Bennett won an astounding seven Tony Awards, was nominated for an additional eleven, and received countess other honors and awards – including a Pulitzer Prize for ‘A Chorus Line’. His influence on musical theater was so profound it is hard to imagine the modern age of Broadway without him. Michael Bennett died of AIDS-related illness in 1987. His striking panel was among the first to be included in the original display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Michael Bennett Headshot

Demography

Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Bisexual

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch AIDS Era (1980-present) Information Age (1970-present)

Field(s) of Contribution

Dance

Theater

Commemorations & Honors

NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt Panel Included in Original Display

Drama Desk Outstanding Director Award For Follies (1971)

Drama Desk Outstanding Choreography Award For Follies (1971)

Tony Award For Best Direction of a Musical Follies (1972)

Tony Award For Best Choreography Follies (1972)

Tony Award For Best Choreography Seesaw (1974)

Drama Desk Outstanding Director of a Musical Award For A Chorus Line (1976)

Drama Desk Outstanding Choreography Award For A Chorus Line (1976)

Tony Award For Best Direction of a Musical A Chorus Line (1976)

Tony Award For Best Choreography A Chorus Line (1976)

Pulitzer Prize For Drama A Chorus Line (1976)

Drama Desk Outstanding Choreography Award For Ballroom (1979)

Tony Award For Best Choreography Ballroom (1979)

Tony Award For Best Choreography Dreamgirls (1982)

Drama Desk Special Award For A Chorus Line (1984)

Resources

Related Images

Michael Bennett in 1966

Michael Bennett Working With the A Chorus Line Dancers

Dreamgirls' Jennifer Holliday and Michael Bennett at the Shows Opening Night After Party in 1981

Michael Bennett's NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt Panel

Related Videos

Today Show Gene Shalit Interview of Michael Bennett in 1983 About A Chorus Line

Michael Bennett 1976 Tony Awards Acceptance Speech for Best Choreography A Chor…

Authorship

Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell