White, Onna Biography

biography of White, Onna

24 March 1922, Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada
8 April 2005, West Hollywood, California, USA (natural causes)

-   'Larry Douglas (I)' (qv) (June 1948 - February 1959) (divorced); 2 children

-   Classically trained ballerina

-   Was nominated for Broadway's Tony Award as Best Choreographer eight times: in 1958 for "The Music Man," in 1959 for "Whoop-Up," in 1960 for "Take Me Along," in 1961 for "Irma la Douce," in 1965 for "Half a Sixpence," in 1966 for "Mame," in 1968 for "Illya Darling," and in 1977 for "I Love My Wife." She never won.

-   Two children, Stuart Douglas and Jeanne Douglas.

-   After dancing on Broadway, she became an assistant to Michael Kidd, and decided to become a choreographer herself.

-   Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Members-at-Large)

-   Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 569-570. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.

-   Active on Broadway in the following productions:

-   (1969). Stage Play: 1776. Historical musical. Book by 'Peter Stone (I)' (qv). Music by 'Sherman Edwards' (qv). Lyrics by Sherman Edwards. Musical Director: Peter Howard. Music orchestrated by Eddie Sauter. Dance arrangements by Peter Howard. Vocal arrangements by Elise Bretton. Scenic Design by 'Jo Mielziner' (qv). Lighting Design by Jo Mielziner. Costume Design by Patricia Zipprodt. Hair Design by Ernest Adler. Assistant to Mr. Mielziner: F. Mitchell Dana. Musical Staging by 'Onna White' (qv). Associate to Miss White: Martin Allen. Directed by Peter Hunt. 46th Street Theatre (moved to The St. James Theatre from 28 Dec 1970- 24 Apr 1971, then moved to The Majestic Theatre from 27 Apr 1971- close): 16 Mar 1969- 13 Feb 1972 (1217 performances + 5 previews). Cast: 'William Daniels (I)' (qv) (as "John Adams"), 'Clifford David' (qv) (as "Edward Rutledge"), 'Paul Hecht' (qv) (as "John Dickinson"), Roy Poole, 'Howard Da Silva' (qv) (as "Benjamin Franklin"), 'Emory Bass' (qv) (as "James Wilson"), Duane Bodin, 'Betty Buckley (I)' (qv) (as "Martha Jefferson"), William Duell, David Ford, Robert Gaus, Ralston Hill, Ronald Holgate, 'Ken Howard (I)' (qv) (as "Thomas Jefferson"), Scott Jarvis, Ronald Kross, Henry Le Clair, Edmund Lyndeck, Bruce MacKay, Jonathan Moore, Philip Polito, Dal Richards, Charles Rule, B.J. Slater, Virginia Slater, Virginia Vestoff, David Vosberg. Replacement actors included: 'Christopher Callen' (qv) (as "Martha Jefferson") [from 4 Jul 1971- ?], 'Truman Gaige' (qv) (as "Stephen Hopkins") [from 6 Sep 1971- ?], 'George Hearn' (qv) (as "John Dickinson") [from 30 Aug 1971- close]. Produced by Stuart Ostrow. Assistant to the Producer: Judy Korman. Note: Filmed as _1776 (1972)_ (qv).

-   (1955). Stage Play: Silk Stockings. Musical comedy. Based on a book by 'George S. Kaufman' (qv), 'Abe Burrows' (qv) and 'Leueen MacGrath' (qv). Music by 'Cole Porter' (qv). Scenic Design and Lighting Design by 'Jo Mielziner' (qv). Directed by 'Cy Feuer' (qv). Imperial Theatre: 24 Feb 1955- 14 Apr 1956 (478 performances). Cast: 'Don Ameche' (qv) (as "Steve Canfield"), 'Hildegard Knef' (qv) (as "Ninotchka"), 'George Tobias (I)' (qv) (as "Commissar Markovitch"), Lee Barry, Estelle Aza, 'Gretchen Wyler' (qv), Martin Allen, Tommy Andrew, 'Barbara Bostock' (qv), 'Leon Belasco' (qv), Paul Best, Bruce Hoy, 'Marcel Hillaire' (qv), Walter Kelvin, Devra Kline, Henry Lascoe, Win Mayo, Pat McBride, Alexandra Moss, 'Julie Newmar' (qv) (as "Vera"), 'David Opatoshu' (qv), Louis Polacek, John Ray, Carol Risser, Arthur Rubin, Stanley Simmonds, 'Philip Sterling' (qv), Carol Stevens, Arthur Ulisse, 'Onna White' (qv). Produced by Feuer & Martin. Associate Producer: Monty Shaff and Arthur Lewis.

-   (1950). Stage Play: Guys and Dolls. Musical comedy. Music by Frank Loesser. Lyrics by 'Frank Loesser' (qv). Book by 'Abe Burrows' (qv) and 'Jo Swerling' (qv). Based on a Story and Characters by 'Damon Runyon' (qv). Musical Director: Irving Actman. Music arranged by 'George Bassman' (qv) and 'Ted Royal' (qv). Vocal arrangements by Herbert Greene. Vocal direction by Herbert Greene. Scenic Design by Jo Mielziner. Lighting Design by 'Jo Mielziner' (qv). Costume Design by Alvin Colt. Assistant Designer to Mr. Mielziner: John Harvey and Trew Hocker. Dances and Musical Numbers Staged by 'Michael Kidd (I)' (qv). Directed by 'George S. Kaufman' (qv). 46th Street Theatre: 24 Nov 1950- 26 Nov 1953 (1200 performances). Cast: 'Robert Alda' (qv) (as "Sky Masterson") [Broadway debut/winner of 1951 Tony Award for Best Actor], Isabel Bigley, 'Vivian Blaine (I)' (qv) (as "Miss Adelaide"), 'Sam Levene (I)' (qv) (as "Nathan Detroit"), 'Pat Rooney (I)' (qv) (as "Arvide Abernathy"), Wana Allison, Forrest Bonshire, Douglas Deane, Geraldine Delaney, Charles Drake, Barbara Ferguson, Tony Gardell, Peter Gennaro, Bern Hoffman, Lee Joyce, 'Stubby Kaye' (qv) (as "Nicely-Nicely Johnson") [Broadway debut], Beverly Lawrence, Marcia Maier, Christine Matsios, Paul Migan, Joe Milan, Carl Nicholas, Margery Oldroyd, Mission Band, Netta Packer, 'Tom Pedi' (qv) (as "Harry the Horse"), Eddie Phillips, B.S. Pully, Paul Reed, Harry Lee Rogers, Don Russell, Hal Saunders, Bud Schwab, Johnny Silver, Earle Styres, Beverly Tassoni, Merritt Thompson, Ruth Vernon, 'Onna White' (qv) (as "Dancer"). Produced by Feuer & Martin. Note: On hiatus during much of the summer of 1953. Winner of 5 1951 Tony Awards. Produced on film as _Guys and Dolls (1955)_ (qv) starring 'Marlon Brando' (qv).

-   Arms and the Girl (1950). Musical comedy. Written by 'Rouben Mamoulian' (qv), with 'Herbert Fields' (qv), 'Dorothy Fields' (qv). Music by 'Morton Gould' (qv). Lyrics by 'Dorothy Fields' (qv). Based on the play "The Pursuit of Happiness" by 'Lawrence Langner' (qv) and 'Armina Marshall Langner' (qv). Music orchestrated by Morton Gould and 'Philip J. Lang' (qv). Choreographed by 'Michael Kidd (I)' (qv). Directed by Rouben Mamoulian. 46th Street Theatre: 2 Feb 1950- 27 May 1950 (134 performances). Cast: 'Florenz Ames' (qv) (as "Capt. Aaron Kirkland"), Howard Andreola, Andy Aprea, 'Seth Arnold' (qv) (as "Thad Jennings"), 'Pearl Bailey' (qv) (as "Connecticut"), Edmund Balin, Mimi Cabanne, Joseph Caruso, Lulu Belle Clarke, John Conte, Cliff Dunstan, 'Nanette Fabray' (qv) (as "Jo Kirkland"), Barbara Ferguson, Paul Fitzpatrick, 'Peter Gennaro' (qv), Annabelle Gold, 'Georges Guétary' (qv), Sterling Hall, Maria Harriton, 'Eda Heinemann' (qv) (as "Prudence Kirkland"), Katherine Henning, William Inglis, Robert Josias, Joan Keenan, William J. McCarthy, Barbara McCutcheon, Peter Miceli, Jerry Miller, Patricia Muller, Dan O'Brien, Mary O'Fallon, Frederick Olsson, Arthur Partington, Robert Rippy, Shirley Robbins, Philip Rodd, Patricia Rogers, Helen Stanton, Bettina Thayer, Donald Thrall, William Thunhurst, Arthur Vinton, Norman Weise, Marc West, 'Onna White' (qv) (as "Dancer"), Fern Whitney, Lou Yetter, 'Victor Young (I)' (qv). Produced by The Theatre Guild. Produced in association with Anthony Brady Farrell.

-   (1959). Stage Play: Take Me Along. Musical comedy. Book by 'Joseph Stein' (qv) and 'Robert Russell (III)' (qv). Based on the play "Ah, Wilderness" by 'Eugene O'Neill (I)' (qv). Music by Bob Merrill. Lyrics by Bob Merrill. Musical Director: Lehman Engel. Vocal arrangements by 'Lehman Engel' (qv). Ballet and incidental music by 'Laurence Rosenthal (I)' (qv). Music orchestrated by 'Philip J. Lang' (qv). Choreographed by 'Onna White' (qv). Directed by 'Peter Glenville' (qv). Shubert Theatre: 22 Oct 1959- 17 Dec 1960 (448 performances). Cast: 'Jackie Gleason (I)' (qv) (as "Sid Davis, Essie's brother"), Eileen Herlie (as "Lily Miller, Nat's sister"), 'Walter Pidgeon' (qv) (as "Nat Miller, editor of the Centerville Globe"), 'Una Merkel' (qv) (as "Essie Miller, Nat's wife"), 'Robert Morse (I)' (qv) (as "Richard Miller, Nat's younger son"), Nicole Barth (as "Townswoman"), Alvin Beam (as "Townsman"), Chad Block (as "Townsman"), Charles Bolender (as "The Beardsley Dwarf"), 'Frank Borgman' (qv) (as "Townsman"), Renee Byrns (as "Townswoman"), John Carter (as "Townsman"), Jack Collins (as "Bartender"), 'Peter Conlow' (qv) (as "Wint, Arthur's friend"), Lyn Connorty (as "Townswoman"), 'James Cresson' (qv) (as "Arthur Miller, Richard's older bother, at Yale") [Broadway debut], Barbara Doherty (as "Townswoman"), Katia Geleznova (as "Townswoman"), 'Arlene Golonka' (qv) (as "Belle/a traveling artiste for hire"), 'Luke Halpin' (qv) (as "Tommy Miller"), 'Valerie Harper (I)' (qv) (as "Lady Entertainer/Townswoman"), Lee Howard (as "Patron of the bar/Townsman"), Diana Hunter (as "Lady Entertainer/Townswoman"), 'Jack Konzal' (qv) (as "Patron of the bar/Townsman"), Elna Laun (as "Patron of the bar/Townswoman"), Paula Lloyd (as "Patron of the bar/Camille/Townswoman"), Susan Luckey (as "Muriel Macomber, Macomber's daughter and friend to Richard"), Nancy Lynch (as "Townswoman"), Bill McDonald (as "The Salesman/Townsman"), Rae McLean (as "Salome/Lady Entertainer/Townswoman"), Henry Michel (as "Townsman"), Fred Miller (as "David Macomber, dry goods store owner"), Jack Murray (as "Townsman"), John Nola (as "Townsman"), Zeme North (as "Mildred Miller, the youngest Miller"), Janice Painchaud (as "Patron of the bar/Townswoman"), Rusty Parker (as "Townsman"), Bill Richards (as "Townsman"), Harry Lee Rogers (as "Townsman"), Bill Starr (as "Townsman"), Walter Strauss (as "Townsman"), Jimmy Tarbutton (as "Townsman"), Pat Tolson (as "Patron of the bar/Townsman"), 'Gene Varrone' (qv) (as "The Drunk/Townsman"), Marc West (as "Townsman"). Standbys: 'Dort Clark (I)' (qv) (as "Sid Davis"), 'Ruth Warrick' (qv) (as "Essie Miller/Lily Miller"). Replacement actors: 'Nicole Barth' (qv) (as "Lady Entertainer"), 'Alvin Beam' (qv) (as "Patron of the bar"), 'William Bendix' (qv) (as "Sid Davis") [final Broadway role], 'Sidney Blackmer (I)' (qv) (as "Nat Miller"), Frank Borgman (as "Bartender"), Doris Dalton (as "Essie Miller"), Diana Hunter (as "Patron of the bar"), Julie Marlow (as "Townswoman"), Patricia Mount (as "Mildred Miller"), Michael O'Shaughnessy (as "Townsman"), Rusty Parker (as "Tommy Miller"), Bill Richards (as "Bartender"), Ron Schwinn (as "Townsman") [from Sep 1960- ?]. Understudies: Renee Byrns (as "Belle"), Jack Collins (as "Sid Davis"), Barbara Doherty (as "Mildred Miller"), Frank Dudley (as "Bartender"), Henry Michel (as "Nat Miller"), Patricia Mount (as "Muriel Macomber"), Michael O'Shaughnessy (as "Tommy Miller"), Rusty Parker (as "Tommy Miller"). Produced by 'David Merrick (I)' (qv). Note: This was not a stage version of the 1948 musical film _Summer Holiday (1948)_ (qv), which also had been based on O'Neill's play.

-   70, Girls, 70 (1971). Musical. Book by 'Fred Ebb' (qv) and Norman L. Martin. Music by 'John Kander' (qv). Lyrics by Fred Ebb. Book adapted by 'Joe Masteroff' (qv). Based on the play "Breath of Spring" by Peter Coke. Musical Director: Oscar Kosarin. Vocal arrangements by Oscar Kosarin. Music orchestrated by 'Don Walker (I)' (qv). Dance arrangements by Dorothea Freitag. Associate Musical Dir.: Karen Gustafson. Choreographed by 'Onna White' (qv). Associate Choreographer: Martin Allen. Production Supervised by 'Stanley Prager' (qv) [final Broadway credit]. Directed by Paul Aaron. Broadhurst Theatre: 15 Apr 1971- 15 May 1971 (35 performances + 9 previews that began on 7 Apr 1971). Cast: 'Hans Conried' (qv) (as "Harry"), 'Mildred Natwick' (qv) (as "Ida Dodd"), 'Lillian Roth' (qv) (as "Gert"), Joey Faye (as "Detective Callahan"), Dorothea Freitag (as "Lorraine"), Lillian Hayman (as "Melba"), Henrietta Jacobson (as "Grandmother"), Gil Lamb (as "Walter"), Lucie Lancaster (as "Eunice"), Goldye Shaw (as "Fritzi") [Broadway debut], Coley Worth (as "Officer Kowalski"), Thomas Anderson (as "Ensemble Player"), Tommy Breslin (as "Eddie"), Robert G. Dare (as "Ensemble Player"), Sally De May (as "Ensemble Player"), Ruth Gillette (as "Ensemble Player"), Lloyd Harris Ensemble Player"), Marjorie Leach (as "Ensemble Player"), Abby Lewis (as "Ensemble Player"), Steve Mills (as "Ensemble Player"), Naomi Price (as "Ensemble Player"), 'Beau Tilden' (qv) (as "Ensemble Player"), 'Bobbie Tremain' (qv) [credited as Bobbi Tremain] (as "Ensemble Player"), Jay Velie (as "Ensemble Player"). Produced by Arthur Whitelaw. Produced in association with Seth Harrison.

-   (1958). Stage Play: Whoop-Up. Musical comedy. Music by Moose Charlap. Lyrics by 'Norman Gimbel' (qv). Material adaption by Cy Feuer, Ernest H. Martin and Dan Cushman. Based on "Stay Away, Joe" by 'Dan Cushman' (qv). Music and Vocal Director: Stanley Lebowsky. Music orchestrated by 'Philip J. Lang' (qv). Dance arrangements by Peter Matz. Choreographed by 'Onna White' (qv). Scenic Design and Lighting Design by 'Jo Mielziner' (qv). Directed by 'Cy Feuer' (qv). Shubert Theatre: 22 Dec 1958- 7 Feb 1959 (56 performances). Cast: Mari Arnell, Asia, Ann Barry, Edward Becker, Jeanna Belkin, Socrates Birsky, Tim Brown, Sandra Devlin, Eleanor Dian, Tina Faye, 'Paul Ford (I)' (qv) (as "Karl Kellenbach"), Tony Gardell, Martha Granese, H.F. Green, Susan Johnson, Salvador Juarez, Robert Karl, P.J. Kelly, Michael Kermoyan, Robert Lenn, Earl Lippy, Julienne Marie, Rae McLean, Danny Meehan, Paul Michael, Michelle Newton, 'Estelle Parsons' (qv) (as "Reservation Resident"), Yolanda Poropat, Thomas Raskin, 'Wallace Rooney' (qv) (as "Clyde Walschmidt"), Tony Rosa, Bobby Shields, Marla Stevens, Sylvia Syms, Ben Vargas, 'Romo Vincent' (qv) (as "Louis Champlain") [final Broadway role], Vera Walton, Jackie Warner, Barbara Webb, Steve Wiland, Ralph Young. Produced by Cy Feuer and Ernest H. Martin.

-   (1961). Stage Play: Let It Ride. Musical comedy. Music/lyrics by 'Jay Livingston' (qv) and 'Ray Evans (I)' (qv). Material adaption by 'Abram S. Ginnes' (qv). Based on "Three Men on a Horse" by 'John Cecil Holm' (qv) and 'George Abbott (I)' (qv). Musical Direction by 'Jay Blackton' (qv). Dance arrangements by Billy Goldenberg. Choreographed by 'Onna White' (qv). Scenic Design by William Eckart and Jean Eckart. Directed by 'Stanley Prager' (qv). Eugene O'Neill Theatre: 12 Oct 1961- 9 Dec 1961 (68 performances + 1 preview on 11 Oct 1961). Cast: Francine Bond, 'Dort Clark (I)' (qv) (as "Nice Nose Brophy"), Sandra Devlin, John Ford, Harold Gary, Carol Glade, 'George Gobel' (qv) (as "Erwin"), 'Stanley Grover' (qv), Ann Johnson, Sally Kirk, Sally Lee, Jack Leigh, 'Sam Levene (I)' (qv) (as "Patsy"), Albert Linville, Barbara Marcon, Rae McLean, 'Barbara Nichols (I)' (qv) (as "Mabel"), Stanley Simmonds, Paula Stewart, Ted Thurston, Pat Turner, Sandy Walsh, Maggie Worth. Produced by Joel Spector. Note: Mr. Abbott had no direct involvement with this production.

-   When I look back on my career, I realize I had a lot of nerve. I had stride. I had guts. If you really want to be a choreographer, get down to business. Give it all you've got. You've got to prove yourself honey; and if you do it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman.

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  1. Hart to Hart: Crimes of the Hart (1994) (TV) (choreographer)
  2. Pete's Dragon (1977) (choreographer)
  3. The Great Waltz (1972) (choreographer)
  4. 1776 (1972) (choreographer)
  5. Oliver! (1968) (choreographer)
  6. Bye Bye Birdie (1963) (choreographer)
  7. The Music Man (1962) (choreographer)