×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Felisa Vanoff, Dancer, Patron of the Arts, Dies at 89

Felisa Vanoff, dancer, choreographer, producer and patron of the arts, died May 29 after a battle with cancer. She was 89.

Upon returning to New York after studying dance in Mexico City, she joined Charles Weidman’s Dance Theatre as lead dancer, gave concerts with Peter Hamilton and appeared on the early Fred Waring and Billy Rose television shows.

In 1948, she became the first female to choreograph the Hasty Pudding Review at Harvard University. In 1949, she became assistant choreographer as well as lead dancer in the New York City Opera Company, where she danced lead roles in operas including “Carmen,” “La Traviata” and “Don Giovanni.”

From 1953-55, she was a principal dancer with the John Butler Dance Theatre, where she partnered with Glen Tetley in many significant roles. She went on to choreograph for television for Sid Caesar’s “Show of Shows” and with Bambi Lynn and Rod Alexander for “Carousel.”

She also choreographed the dances in the Julie Andrews special from Salzberg.

Vanoff staged many of the Kennedy Center Honors Awards shows, which were produced and created by her late husband, Nick Vanoff.

Felisa Vanoff produced the Broadway musical “City of Angels” in London for which she received the Oliver Award with Nick Vanoff, and she underwrote the Joffrey Ballet’s re-creation of the famous Diaghilev Ballet “Sacre du Printemps” in 1987.

Born Phyllis Elizabeth Caputo in Ambridge, Pa. she was the daughter of Eugene Caputo, a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Velma Lindway, a professional artist and illustrator.

After graduating high school, Felisa set off to New York City in pursuit of her dream of becoming a dancer. She trained there with Vinecenzo Celli, ballet master of the Ballet Russe, before heading off to Mexico City to
study classical Spanish Dance and Flamenco with Jose Fernandez.

During Word War II she joined the Army, attained the rank of captain, and as a member of the USO, entertained the troops in the Philippines, Korea and Japan.

After the death of her husband, Felisa and Gordon Davidson created Salon at the Taper, an annual benefit in Los Angeles hosted by Michael Feinstein and honoring an outstanding lyricist each year. The proceeds from the evenings fund Nick’s Tix, low-cost tickets to all Music Center performances for students, seniors and the disabled.

As a patron of the arts, Vanoff was on the board of directors of the Joffrey Ballet and was influential in bringing the company to Los Angeles. She was a longtime member of the board of directors of the Blue
Ribbon of the Music Center, chairing or co-chairing many events for the organization’s benefit . She was also a board member of the Colleagues and as a member of S.H.A.R.E. participated in its show.

Vanoff is survived by her son, Nick; two granddaughters Marina and Kathrine; and her sister.

She was buried in Sun Valley, Idaho. There will be a private memorial for her in Beverly Hills later this month.

 

More Legit

  • Hugh Jackman'To Kill a Mockingbird' Broadway

    'To Kill a Mockingbird's' Starry Opening: Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and More

    The Shubert Theatre in New York City was filled on Thursday night with Oscar winners, media titans, and, of course, Broadway legends who came out for the opening of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The starry guest list included Oprah Winfrey, Barry Diller, “Les Misérables” co-stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, Magic [...]

  • Pat Gelbart Obit Dead

    Actress Pat Gelbart, Wife of 'MASH' Creator, Dies at 94

    Pat Gelbart, widow of late “MASH” creator Larry Gelbart, died surrounded by family at her home in Westwood, Calif. on Dec. 11. She was 94. Gelbart was born in Minneapolis, Minn. in 1928 as Marriam Patricia Murphy. When she met her husband, Gelbart was an actress, known for the 1947 musical “Good News,” in which [...]

  • To Kill a Mockingbird review

    Broadway Review: 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

    Against all odds, writer Aaron Sorkin and director Bartlett Sher have succeeded in crafting a stage-worthy adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic American novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The ever-likable Daniels, whose casting was genius, gives a strong and searching performance as Atticus Finch, the small-town Southern lawyer who epitomizes the ideal human qualities of goodness, [...]

  • Isabelle HuppertIsabelle Huppert Life Achievement Award,

    Isabelle Huppert, Chris Noth to Appear on Stage in 'The Mother'

    Isabelle Huppert will appear opposite Chris Noth in the Atlantic Theater Company’s production of “The Mother.” It marks the U.S. premiere of the show. “The Mother” was written by French playwright Florian Zeller and translated by Christopher Hampton. Huppert, an icon of European film, was Oscar-nominated for “Elle” and appears in the upcoming Focus Features [...]

  • Could Anyone Follow ‘Springsteen on Broadway’?

    Could Anyone Follow 'Springsteen on Broadway'? Here Are Five Things They'd Need (Guest Column)

    After 235-odd shows, with grosses in excess of $100 million, a Special Tony Award and a hotly anticipated Netflix special debuting Sunday, “Springsteen on Broadway” is an unprecedented Broadway blockbuster. As with any success in entertainment, the rush to replicate The Boss’ one-man show reportedly is under way, with a consortium led by Live Nation, CAA [...]

  • Clueless review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Clueless' the Musical

    How does a musical stage adaptation of Amy Heckerling’s 1995 film comedy of oblivious privileged teens, “Clueless,” play in the era of female empowerment and millennial engagement? True, the principal skills of lead teen Cher Horowitz are the superficial ones of mall shopping and makeovers. But her sweet spirit and independence, plus some added P.C. relevance, [...]

  • Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary,

    Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary, 'Hugo Cabret' Musical

    Producers Tim Headington and Theresa Steele Page have unveiled Ley Line Entertainment with a Brian Wilson documentary and a “Hugo Cabret” musical in the works. Ley Line said it’s a content development, production, and financing company with projects spanning film, television, stage, and music. Headington financed and produced “The Young Victoria,” “Argo,” “Hugo,” and “World [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content