Donald Saddler

Choreographer, Director, Performer
Donald Saddler

Male

Born: January 24, 1918
Van Nuys, California, USA

Died: November 2, 2014
Englewood, New Jersey

Obituary: Donald Saddler, a dancer and choreographer whose stage and film credits stretched back to the 1930s, and who remained active into the 21st century, died Nov. 2 at the Actors Home in New Jersey. He was 94.

Donald Saddler, born Jan. 24, 1920, in Van Nuys, CA, began studying dance as a youth in order to bounce back physically from an attack of scarlet fever. He never stopped. "I was a little like Billy Elliot," he told the New York Times decades later. "I only knew who I was when I was dancing."

As a teenager, he hoofed it in the chorus of various 1930s movie musicals, including "The Great Ziegfeld," "Rosalie," "Broadway Melody of 1938," "Babes in Arms" and "The Wizard of Oz."

He made his Broadway debut in 1941 as a performer with The Ballet Theatre. Following service in the entertainment division during World War II, he returned to Broadway with the troupe in 1946, executing the steps of Jerome Robbins in "Fancy Free," the dance predecessor of On the Town.

With Robbins, Mr. Saddler found a mentor. The famed choreographer used him as a replacement performer in the musical High Button Shoes, in which he danced a tango with Helen Gallagher. He moved up to Robbins' assistant for the 1950 Ethel Merman vehicle Call Me Madam. Three years later, when Mr. Saddler created dance sequences for Leonard Bernstein's Wonderful Town, Robbins provided some uncredited show doctoring.

By the early '60s, Mr. Saddler no longer needed help, and showed a special affinity for the dancing styles of the early years of Broadway. He was choreographer on such notable shows as Jerry Herman's Milk and Honey, the 1971 hit retro revival of the 1920s chestnut No, No, Nanette, the Alfred Uhry-Robert Waldman musical The Robber Bridegroom and the hit 1983 revival of the Rodgers and Hart musical On Your Toes.
His final Broadway choreography credit was a 1993 revival of My Fair Lady. He was 73 at the time. His last Broadway credit was as an actor in the 2000 revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies. Appropriately, he played an aged performer from Broadway's Follies era—a period of which Mr. Saddler had first-hand knowledge.

Mr. Saddler was nominated for a Tony Award for Wonderful Town; No, No, Nanette; a 1973 production of Much Ado About Nothing; and On Your Toes. He won Tonys for the first two. He was nominated for Drama Desk Awards for the 1975 musical Good News and The Robber Bridegroom.

In recent years, Mr. Saddler would meet with his fellow octogenarian dancer Marge Champion regularly to practice their fancy footwork. "Keep Dancing," a documentary on the two dancers' careers, was released in 2010.

Regarding his long-lived vitality, Mr. Saddler told the New York Times, "I lead a cloistered life. And I religiously go to Pilates three times a week. Diet? A big breakfast, light lunch and dinner. Also, I've got good genes. My mother lived to be 93."

 

Roles

Playbill Cover - Follies Follies
Apr. 5, 2001 - Jul. 14, 2001
Theodore Whitman Performer
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - My Fair Lady My Fair Lady
Dec. 9, 1993 - May 1, 1994
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Teddy & Alice Teddy & Alice
Nov. 12, 1987 - Jan. 17, 1988
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Broadway Broadway
Jun. 25, 1987 - Jun. 27, 1987
Musical Staging
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Loves of Anatol The Loves of Anatol
Mar. 6, 1985 - Apr. 14, 1985
Musical Staging
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 37th Annual Tony Awards - 1983 The 37th Annual Tony Awards - 1983
Jun. 5, 1983 - Jun. 5, 1983
Choreography
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - On Your Toes On Your Toes
Mar. 6, 1983 - May 20, 1984
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Happy New Year Happy New Year
Apr. 27, 1980 - May 10, 1980
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Grand Tour The Grand Tour
Jan. 11, 1979 - Mar. 4, 1979
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The American Dance Machine The American Dance Machine
Jun. 14, 1978 - Dec. 3, 1978
Featured Choreography from "No, No, Nanette"
(Original)
 
Together on Broadway (Mary Martin & Ethel Merman)
May 15, 1977 - May 15, 1977
Staging
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Robber Bridegroom The Robber Bridegroom
Oct. 9, 1976 - Feb. 13, 1977
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 30th Annual Tony Awards - 1976 The 30th Annual Tony Awards - 1976
Apr. 18, 1976 - Apr. 18, 1976
Choreographer
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The Robber Bridegroom The Robber Bridegroom
Oct. 7, 1975 - Oct. 18, 1975
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Rodgers & Hart Rodgers & Hart
May 13, 1975 - Aug. 16, 1975
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 29th Annual Tony Awards - 1975 The 29th Annual Tony Awards - 1975
Apr. 20, 1975 - Apr. 20, 1975
Musical Number Staging
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - A Gala Tribute to Joshua Logan A Gala Tribute to Joshua Logan
Mar. 9, 1975 - Mar. 9, 1975
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - A Doll's House A Doll's House
Mar. 5, 1975 - Apr. 20, 1975
Tarantella choreographed
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Good News Good News
Dec. 23, 1974 - Jan. 4, 1975
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Tricks Tricks
Jan. 8, 1973 - Jan. 13, 1973
Choreographer
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Much Ado About Nothing Much Ado About Nothing
Nov. 11, 1972 - Feb. 11, 1973
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 26th Annual Tony Awards - 1972 The 26th Annual Tony Awards - 1972
Apr. 23, 1972 - Apr. 23, 1972
Choreography
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - No, No, Nanette No, No, Nanette
Jan. 19, 1971 - Feb. 3, 1973
Choreographer
(Original)
 
    Musical Staging
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Sophie Sophie
Apr. 15, 1963 - Apr. 20, 1963
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Milk and Honey Milk and Honey
Oct. 10, 1961 - Jan. 26, 1963
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Shangri-La Shangri-La
Jun. 13, 1956 - Jun. 30, 1956
Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - John Murray Anderson's Almanac John Murray Anderson's Almanac
Dec. 10, 1953 - Jun. 26, 1954
Dances and Musical Numbers Staged
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Wonderful Town Wonderful Town
Feb. 25, 1953 - Jul. 3, 1954
Dance and Musical Number Staging
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Bless You All Bless You All
Dec. 13, 1950 - Feb. 24, 1951
The Mobile Performer
(Original)
 
    The Rich Boy Performer
(Original)
 
    The Texan Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Call Me Madam Call Me Madam
Oct. 12, 1950 - May 3, 1952
Asst. to the Choreographer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Dance Me a Song Dance Me a Song
Jan. 20, 1950 - Feb. 18, 1950
Owner Performer
(Original)
 
    Taxi Driver Performer
(Original)
 
    "Finale" Performer Performer
(Original)
 
    "It's The Weather" Dancer Performer
(Original)
 
    "Lilac Wine" Dancer Performer
(Original)
 
    Boy Friend Performer
(Original)
 
    Drunkard Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - High Button Shoes High Button Shoes
Oct. 9, 1947 - Jul. 2, 1949
Uncle Willie Performer
(Replacement)
 
Ballet Theatre
Sep. 30, 1946 - Nov. 9, 1946
Lover-in-Experience Performer
(Original)
 
    Bartender Performer
(Original)
 
The Ballet Theatre
Feb. 11, 1941 - Mar. 9, 1941
Wilfred Performer
(Original)
 
 

Awards


Drama Desk Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1983 Outstanding Choreography On Your Toes Nominee
1977 Outstanding Choreography The Robber Bridegroom Nominee
1976 Outstanding Choreography The Robber Bridegroom Nominee
1975 Outstanding Choreography Good News Nominee
1971 Outstanding Choreography No, No, Nanette Winner

Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1983 Choreography On Your Toes Nominee
1973 Choreography Much Ado About Nothing Nominee
1971 Choreography No, No, Nanette Winner
1953 Choreography Wonderful Town Winner
 
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