Donald Saddler

Donald Edward Saddler
Born (1918-01-24)January 24, 1918
Van Nuys, California, USA
Died November 1, 2014(2014-11-01) (aged 96)
Englewood, New Jersey
Occupation Choreographer, dancer

Donald Edward Saddler (January 24, 1918 – November 1, 2014) was an American choreographer, dancer, and theatre director.


Born in Van Nuys, California, Saddler studied dance at an early age to regain his strength after a bout of scarlet fever. He spent his school vacations at the MGM studios, eventually dancing in the chorus of movie musicals such as The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Rosalie (1937), Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), Babes in Arms (1939), and The Wizard of Oz (1939) .

Saddler was an original member of the American Ballet Theatre, appearing in Giselle, Pillar of Fire, and Fancy Free before heading overseas to serve in World War II. When he returned, he decided to forego ballet in favor of Broadway musicals, appearing in High Button Shoes (1947) and two 1950 revues, Dance Me a Song and Bless You All, before winning his first assignment as a choreographer for Wonderful Town in 1953, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Choreography.

In 1958, Saddler won critical acclaim for his choreography for a Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival "dance drama" adaptation of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, in which he also performed.

Sadler has directed Together on Broadway: Mary Martin and Ethel Merman, George Abbott: Celebration, and I Hear Music of Frank Loesser and Friends, a concert featuring the composer's widow, Jo Sullivan. He won another Tony for his choreography of the 1971 revival of No, No, Nanette and earned other nominations and awards during his extensive career as a Broadway choreographer. Saddler directed the 1988 Broadway reunion of prima ballerina Cynthia Gregory and danseur Fernando Bujones.

His choreographic work for feature films includes April in Paris, Young at Heart, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, and Radio Days. For television he staged the dance routines for Verna: U.S.O. Girl, a presentation of the PBS series Great Performances starring Sissy Spacek and William Hurt. In 2001, at the age of 81, Saddler was featured in the Broadway revival of Follies, performing the adagio with fellow dance veteran Marge Champion. Champion and Saddler remained friends after the production and became the subjects of a short film, Keep Dancing, about the two dancers leading meaningful lives at age 90.[1]

In 2004, Saddler directed a staged reading of Only a Kingdom at The John Drew Theater of Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY. Among the well-known performers in the cast were Kaitlin Hopkins, George S. Irving, Dina Merrill, Marni Nixon and Jo Ann Worley. He died at the age of 96 on November 1, 2014.[2]

Stage credits

Awards and nominations



  1. Gans, Andrew. "Keep Dancing Film, About Marge Champion and Donald Saddler, Available for Free Streaming", Playbill, 29 January 2016
  2. Weber, Bruce (November 4, 2014). "Donald Saddler, Dancer, and a Choreographer on Broadway, Dies at 96". New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2014.

External links

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