General News

Director Herbert Ross dies

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Oct 10, 2001 | 7:11am EDT

Herbert Ross, a choreographer and the director of many Oscar-caliber films including The Goodbye Girl and The Turning Point, died Tuesday. He was 74.

The cause of death is not known, but he had been hospitalized for the past three months, Barbara Wrede, media relations manager for Lenox Hill Hospital told the Associated Press.

Ross began his career as a choreographer on Broadway but got into film when he choreographed the musical sequences in the 1954 Carmen Jones with Dorothy Dandridge. His first major film as a director was Goodbye, Mr. Chips in 1969 with Peter O'Toole.

Ross' virtuosity as a director became clear in the 1970s, when he began a longtime collaboration with playwright Neil Simon, directing Simon's The Sunshine Boys, California Suite and the The Goodbye Girl, which won Richard Dreyfuss the Academy Award for Best Actor. He also directed Woody Allen's hilarious Play It Again Sam and Barbra Streisand's The Owl and the Pussycat.

In 1977, Ross put on his dancing shoes once again and directed his classic The Turning Point, a study of the ballet world, starring Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft, and received his only Academy Award nominations--for Best Director and Best Picture.

In the 1980s and 90s, he turned out critical and box office success such as The Secret of My Success with Michael J. Fox, Footloose with Kevin Bacon and Steel Magnolias with Sally Field and Julia Roberts.

Ross' first wife, prima ballerina Nora Kaye, died of cancer in 1987. In 1989, he married Lee Radziwill, the sister of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. They divorced in 1999.

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