Ron Field, a Tony and Emmy award-winning director and choreographer who developed routines for dancers ranging from Fred Astaire to Michael Jackson to the thousands of dancers at the 1984 Olympics, has died at age 55.
Field died Monday at St. Vincent’s Hospital of neurological impairment caused by brain lesions. The creator of dances for “Cabaret” and many other Broadway shows had lived in Manhattan.
Field’s career began in 1942 when as an 8-year-old he appeared with Gertrude Lawrence on Broadway in “Lady in the Dark.” He also danced in numerous Broadway shows early in his career, including “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “Kismet.”
Besides Jackson and Astaire, Field choreographed for Gene Kelly, Ray Bolger, Ben Vereen, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Cyd Charisse, Debbie Allen, Carol Lawrence, Chita Rivera, Sandy Duncan, Marge Champion, Shirley MacLaine, Debbie Reynolds, Raquel Welch, Ann-Margret, Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters, Tommy Tune and others.
He won two Tony awards for his work as director and choreographer of the Broadway musical “Applause,” starring Lauren Bacall, and a third for “Cabaret.”
Field’s choreography for “Zorba” and most recently, “Rags,” resulted in additional Tony nominations.
Field’s other Broadway credits as director and choreographer include “King of Hearts” and the revivals of “On the Town” and “Peter Pan.”
He won Emmys for choreographing such shows as “Ben Vereen . . . His Roots” and “America Salutes Richard Rodgers.” “Baryshnikov on Broadway,” which he also choreographed, won a record nine Emmys but none for him.
He also directed Carol Burnett in “Once Upon a Mattress"; Danny Kaye and Duncan in “Pinocchio"; and Dean Jones and Teri Garr in “The Brothers Grimm.”
Field was also responsible for the dances and musical staging of five years of the Academy Awards presentations, three years of the Tony awards and three years of the Emmy awards.
Besides his work in theater and television, Field has produced and staged productions for venues ranging from the Casino de Paris to the Casino du Liban in Beirut to the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans.
Field made his choreographic opera debut with the New York City Opera premiere of “Ashmedai” and worked with director Martin Scorcese on the Robert de Niro-Minnelli movie, “New York, New York.”
In 1984, he choreographed the spectacular show at the Los Angeles Olympics that included 3,300 dancers, singers and musicians.