December 24, 1924
New Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||May 10, 1964
Saddle Brook, New Jersey, U.S.
Cause of death
|Spouse(s)||Eugene Dorian Johnson (1945-1953)
Larry Blyden (1955-1962)
|Children||Joshua Blyden (1957-2000)
Ellen Blyden (b. 1960)
Carol Haney (December 24, 1924 – May 10, 1964) was an American dancer and actress. After assisting Gene Kelly in choreographing films, Haney won a Tony Award for her role in The Pajama Game. She then shifted to choreography, being nominated for three more Tonys for her choreography work on Broadway.
Life and career
Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, she opened a dancing school when she was fifteen years old. After high school, Haney left her home town for Hollywood and landed bit parts in movies until she was spotted by dancer/choreographer Jack Cole, becoming his dance partner and assistant from 1946–48.
In 1949, Haney was hired by Gene Kelly to be his assistant choreographer on several MGM musical films, and she aided Kelly in some of his best work, including On the Town, Summer Stock, An American in Paris, Singin' in the Rain, as well as Kelly's dream project, Invitation to the Dance.
Haney danced with Bob Fosse in the 1953 film version of Kiss Me, Kate, and when he landed his first Broadway choreographing assignment, The Pajama Game (1954), he recommended that Haney be cast in a small dancing part. She then impressed director George Abbott so much that Abbott combined her role with a larger part, resulting in the character of Gladys Hotchkiss. The role shot Haney to Broadway fame and won her a Tony Award and two Donaldson awards. The role of Gladys was lucky for Haney's understudy, Shirley MacLaine. A month into the run of The Pajama Game, Haney injured her leg, and MacLaine took over the role. She was spotted by Hollywood producer Hal Wallis, who had come to the show to see Haney, and MacLaine got a film contract that launched her career, while Haney never became a Hollywood star.
After this, Haney appeared in a few shows, including the touring production Ziegfeld Follies of 1956, but developed paralyzing stage fright. She was seen on television, and she recreated her performance as Gladys in the film version of The Pajama Game (1957). She focused her career on choreography for Broadway shows: Flower Drum Song (1958, directed by Gene Kelly), Bravo Giovanni (1962), She Loves Me (1963) and Funny Girl (1964). The American Dance Machine (1978) featured her choreography from television. She was nominated for three more Tony Awards, for choreography, for Flower Drum Song, Bravo Giovanni and, posthumously, for Funny Girl. In May 1958, she and Dick Van Dyke appeared together as guest stars on Polly Bergen's NBC's short-lived variety show, The Polly Bergen Show.
Haney was married to Eugene Dorian Johnson (1945–1953) and then Broadway actor and TV host Larry Blyden (1955–62), whom she choreographed in Flower Drum Song. She and Blyden had two children, Joshua (1957–2000) and Ellen (b. 1960).
Haney died in Saddle Brook, New Jersey in 1964, at age 39, six weeks after the opening of Funny Girl, which she choreographed. The cause of death was pneumonia, complicated by diabetes and alcoholism.
Blyden and Haney resided in the historic Achenbach House in Saddle River, New Jersey, which they believed to be haunted by the spirit of its builder. The house was later sold to tour operator Mario Perillo and was destroyed by fire in 2004.
- Bloom and Vlastnik, p. 248
- MacLaine, Shirley. My Lucky Stars: A Hollywood Memoir, Bantam Books, 1995, p.168
- Fisher, Janon. "Bergen County House on Historic Register Is Fire Victim", The New York Times, March 20, 2004. Accessed February 4, 2012. "In the 1960s, the private house, known as the Achenbach House, was the home of the actor and producer Larry Blyden and his wife, the actress and dancer Carol Haney, who believed the house was haunted. Later it was owned by Mario Perillo of Perillo Tours, well known for his television commercials selling package tours to Italy; after his death, the house passed to Mr. Perillo's son Stephen, the current owner."
- Bloom, Ken and Vlastnik, Frank (2004). Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of all Time. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. ISBN 1-57912-390-2.
- Carol Haney at Find a Grave
- Carol Haney at the Internet Broadway Database
- Carol Haney at the Internet Movie Database