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Ann Reinking, Actress and Broadway Star, Dies At 71

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

The Tony Award winner was a protégée of Bob Fosse, subject of the recent FX series 'Fosse/Verdon.'

Ann Reinking
Ann Reinking [Cheryl Mann]

Actress and Broadway star Ann Reinking has died. She was 71. The news was confirmed by her sister-in-law Dahrla Reinking to Variety.

“The lights on Broadway are forever more dim this morning and there is one less star in the sky,” said dancer and choreographer Christopher Dean. “The good news is that heaven has the very best choreographer on earth now.”

Reinking moved to New York City when she was just 18 years old. She became a dancer in the corps de ballet at Radio City Music Hall. She became a Broadway darling at the age of 19 when she appeared in Cabaret. She went on to perform as a chorus dancer in Coco (1969), Wild and Wonderful (1971), Pippin (1972), Goodtime Charlie (1975), A Chorus Line (1976).

While working on Pippin, Reinking caught the eye of the show's director and choreographer Bob Fosse. Reinking became Fosse's protégée, and working together blossomed into a romantic relationship. Although they were separated at the time, Fosse was still legally married to Gwen Verdon.

“Gwen and Bob had been legally separated for close to three years, and they had both gone on with their lives with other people, so I wasn’t an intruder,” Reinking said in a 2019 interview with The New Yorker. “I never had an altercation with Gwen. She respected me. And I trusted her. I trusted Bob. I trusted Gwen. And I was right to. My instincts weren’t incorrect at all. They never hurt me, and they were on my side.”

In 1977, Reinking replaced Verdon as Roxie Hart in the Broadway classic Chicago.

In 1979, Reinking appeared in All That Jazz - a semi-autobiographical film about Fosse's life. She played a character named Kate Jagger, who was loosely based off Reinking herself and her relationship with Fosse.

The story of Fosse and Verdon's relationship was told on screen in the recent FX series Fosse/Verdon. Based on the biography Fosse by Sam Wasson, the limited 8-episode series aired in 2019. The critically-acclaimed series and its actors earned 17 Emmy Award nominations.

Michelle Williams, who played Gwen Verdon, won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. At the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, Sam Rockwell (Bob Fosse) and Williams both took home the hardware for Best Actor/Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture - Television.

In the show, Reinking was portrayed by actress Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers, The Nice Guys, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Qualley's performance earned her an Emmy Award nomination.

Reinking also appeared in the Oscar-nominated classic Annie (1982) and Micki & Maude (1984). She guest starred in an episode of The Cosby Show in 1987.

In 1996, she reprised the role as Roxie Hart for the revival of Chicago. This time, she also choreographed the show. She garnered the Tony Award for Best Choreography for her efforts.

“The hope is that in rediscovering Chicago, audiences will rediscover what theater was,” Reinking told the New York Times at the time of the show’s revival. “It was sophisticated, complicated, adult.”

In 2001, Reinking served as the co-creator, co-director and co-choreographer for the musical Fosse. The production showcased the choreography of Bob Fosse. She created the project alongside Richard Maltby Jr. and Chet Walker.

The musical also served as Reinking’s curtain call on Broadway, as she served as a replacement ensemble member.

Reinking is survived by her husband, Peter Talbert, and her son Chris.

- Matt Bishop


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