David Winters (Director-Producer-Choreographer)
April 5, 1939
London, England, United Kingdom
|Other names||Maria Dante|
|Occupation||Producer, director, actor, screenwriter, film distributor, choreographer, dancer|
|Awards||Christopher Award 1972
Peabody Award 1972
Sitges Film Festival Award 1982 Best International Film: The Last Horror Film (Director)
Paris Film Festival Award 1982
2ND Mumbai International FICTS Festival 2007
Golden Scroll Award 1982
Bangkok Film Festival 2002
Houston Film Festival
Charleston Film Festival
Star Entertainment Award
3 World Television Awards
2 Emmy Nominations
Kids Choice Award winner
David Winters (born April 5, 1939 in London) is an English-born American actor, dancer, choreographer, producer, film distributor, director and screenwriter. Winters participated in over 150 television series, television specials, and motion pictures. He is noted to be the first dance choreographer to be nominated in the history of the Emmys in the Special Classification of Individual Achievements category, before the Outstanding Achievement in Choreography category was created.
Winters was born David Weizer in London, England, the son of Jewish parents Sadie and Samuel Weizer. His family relocated to the United States in 1953. He became a naturalized United States citizen in 1956.
As a child, Winters began acting various commercials, which lead him to act in over 15 television shows, including Lux Video Theatre, Naked City, The Red Button Show, Mister Peepers and many more. He also had roles in his first two films, Rock, Rock, Rock, and Roogie's Bump, during this period. Finally, on stage, he acted on Broadway in several plays. He gained attention by playing Baby John in the highly successful Broadway musicals West Side Story, and the role of Yonkers in Gypsy.
In 1961, he appeared as A-Rab in the movie version of West Side Story, recreating the “Cool” dance sequence, which was choreographed for him. Along with Carole D'Andrea, Jay Norman, Tommy Abbott, William Bramley and Tony Mordente, he was one of the only members of the original Broadway Musical to be cast in the film.
West Side Story was the highest grossing Motion Picture of that year, going on to win 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The feature established Winters as a young star. He began to release music and found steady work acting.  
On TV, he acted in 17 high profile and award winning television projects. Notable credits include 77 Sunset Strip, Perry Mason, and The Dick Powell Show.  He also had roles in two notable films, The New Intern by John Rich, and The Crazy-Quilt by John Korty.
In 1964, he got a big break as a Dance Choreographer for the Musical Film Viva Las Vegas, starring Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret. It became a major hit, and many think it is the best Elvis Presley movie ever made.
Following these successes, he became one of the most sought-after Dance Choreographers. He was seen regularly with his dance troupe on major TV shows such as Shindig! and Hullabaloo (TV series). To his resume, he added three more Elvis Presley films (Girl Happy, Tickle Me, Easy Come, Easy Go), four films with Ann-Margret (Kitten with a Whip, Bus Riley's Back in Town, Made in Paris, and The Swinger), as well as other projects including The T.A.M.I. Show, Send Me No Flowers, Billie, and many more. 
In 1966, he got his first producer credit in the TV Movie, Lucy in London, which starred the main character from The Lucy Show, Lucille Ball, as well as Buster Keaton, The Dave Clark 5, Wilfrid Hyde-White, and many others.
In 1967, he received what he has called his biggest honor, his Emmy nomination for the choreography of the TV Movie Movin' with Nancy, in which he also acted alongside Nancy Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Lee Hazlewood, and Frank Sinatra. This was the first-ever Emmy nomination for a choreographer in the category “Special Classification of Individual Achievements.”  His nomination led to the creation of the Emmy’s “Outstanding Achievement in Choreography" award, for which he was nominated in 1970.
It was also in 1967 that David began to direct. His first assignments were for two episodes of the hit show The Monkees. Shortly after, he started producing, directing, and doing the choreography for star-studded TV Specials. For the first two he reunited with Ann-Margret for The Ann-Margret Show co-starring Bob Hope, Carol Burnett, and Jack Benny. Also Ann-Margret: From Hollywood with Love (for which he received his second Emmy nomination for dance choreography), co-starring Lucille Ball, Dean Martin, and Larry Storch.
In the early seventies he kept on directing, choreographing and producing for television. Projects included Raquel! starring Raquel Welch, John Wayne, and Bob Hope, Once Upon a Wheel starring Paul Newman, Mario Andretti, and Stephen Boyd, The Special London Bridge Special starring Tom Jones, The Carpenters, and Rudolf Nureyev, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, (nominated for three Emmys) starring Kirk Douglas, Stanley Holloway, and Donald Pleasence, and Timex All-Star Swing Festival (which won the Peabody Award and a Christopher Award for Winters as its producer) starring Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, and many more jazz musicians from this generation.
David began to produce and direct feature films in 1975. His first effort was the concert film Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare. The film received rave reviews and is now considered to be one of the most creative rock shows ever made.
That same year he produced his second theatrical picture, the comedy Linda Lovelace for President, with his then-girlfriend Linda Lovelace. The film co-starred Micky Dolenz, Val Bisoglio, and Jack DeLeon.
In the early 1980s, David was hired to choreograph the Emmy Award winning TV show The Big Show starring Dick Clark, a TV special, Diana, starring Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, and Michael Jackson, and the film Blame it On the Night based on a Mick Jagger story.
In 1982 he produced, directed, wrote, and co-starred in The Last Horror Film, which he filmed guerrilla-style without permits during the Cannes Film Festival, and which went on to win numerous awards, including the Paris Film Festival Award, the Los Angeles Golden Scroll Award, and the Sitges Film Festival Award.
In 1986, he made the first film about skateboarding, Thrashin', starring Academy Award Winner Josh Brolin, Sherilyn Fenn, and Chuck McCann. The movie is notable for including soundtrack music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (who play a set in the film), Fine Young Cannibals, and The Bangles before their rise to fame. The film continues to attract a cult following.
That same year, he also released the action film, Mission Kill, starring Robert Ginty, Merete Van Kamp, and Cameron Mitchell. On the set of the film he developed a friendship with Robert Ginty and Cameron Mitchell with whom he made multiple more films.
In 1987, he opened his own production company “Action International Pictures,” which within five years produced, and distributed over 80 action films, as well as horror, post-apocalyptic, science fiction, and dance films.
That same year he hired filmmaker David A. Prior, who had already made two film with his brother, the actor and bodybuilder Ted Prior, as leading man. That year, Winters’ produced three films (Deadly Prey, Aerobicide, and Mankillers) written and directed by David A. Prior, two of them with Ted Prior as the leading man. Since, these films have gained an immense cult following and have recently been re-released on Blu-Ray. From that point on, David A. Prior wrote and directed 22 motion pictures for “Action International Pictures,” which David Winters produced. As well, Ted Prior became a recurring star for AIP and had lead roles in eight of their films.
Also in 1987, David Winters personally directed and produced his second collaboration with Robert Ginty in the action film, Code Name Vengeance, co-starring Shannon Tweed, Cameron Mitchell, Don Gordon, and James Ryan. The film was shot in South Africa, becoming the first of five film produced by David in this country.
In 1988, Winters was assigned to produce and direct the science fiction film Space Mutiny. He had to drop out at an early stage of filming due to the death of a close relative, and most of the film was eventually directed by Neal Sundstrom. Both were un-happy with the final product, and Winters attempted to have his name replaced with a fictional one, but due to his contract he was unable to do so. The film gained a cult status and was subject for a successful episode of the TV Show Mystery Science Theater 3000.
That same year he directed and produced the action film Rage to Kill starring James Ryan, Cameron Mitchell, Henry Cele, and Oliver Reed. He also produced Dead End City starring Dennis Cole which was the first AIP film with a veteran actor in the lead role he didn’t direct. The other 1980s films he produced with known actors are The Revenger with Oliver Reed, Order of Eagle with Frank Stallone, and Future Force with David Carradine.
In 1990, David produced and released nine action films including The Bounty Hunter starring, directed, and written by Robert Ginty, Fatal Skies with Timothy Leary, and Future Zone the sequel of Future Force starring David Carradine.
In 1991, he again produced and released nine action film including Firehead with Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer, and Chris Lemmon, Deadly Dancer with Shabba Doo, Dark Rider starring Joe Estevez, Raw Nerve starring Glenn Ford (in his last film role), Jan-Michael Vincent, Sandahl Bergman and Traci Lords.
In 1992, he produced the film Center of the Web starring Robert Davi, Tony Curtis, Charlene Tilton, Charles Napier. He also produced Armed for Action and Blood on the Badge, both starring Joe Estevez.
In 1993, he produced Double Threat with Sally Kirkland, Andrew Stevens, Richard Lynch, Sherrie Rose, Anthony Franciosa, and Chick Vennera. He also produced the horror-thriller film Night Trap (which won him and the writer director David A. Prior a Gold Award at the WorldFest Houston for best Fantasy/Horror) starring Robert Davi, Michael Ironside, Lesley-Anne Down, Margaret Avery, John Amos, Lydie Denier, and Mike Starr.
In 1994 he produced the thriller Raw Justice (which won him and the writer director David A. Prior a Bronze Award at the WorldFest Charleston for best Theatrical Feature Film - Dramatic), starring Pamela Anderson, David Keith, Robert Hays, and Stacey Keach.
In 1995, he produced two action films starring Robert Davi: The Dangerous co-starring Joel Grey, Michael Paré, John Savage, Elliott Gould, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Codename: Silencer, co-starring Steven Bauer, Brigitte Nielsen, Sonny Chiba, Brigitte Nielsen, and Jan-Michael Vincent.
In 2005, in Thailand, he produced the historical epic The King Maker with Gary Stretch and John Rhys Davies which won numerous prizes, and received a big theatrical release in Asia. It was distributed for Home Video by Sony in the USA, and by Universal in other countries. It was sold in thirty-six countries, making it the most successful Thai Film ever made.
In 2006, David returned to acting after a long hiatus in the mini-series Blackbeard, made for the Hallmark Channel. It was directed by Kevin Connor (North & South, Great Expectations, Frankenstein), and co-starred Angus Macfadyen, Richard Chamberlain, Stacy Keach, and Jessica Chastain.
In 2008, he played the main villain in the Thai martial arts film Hanuman klook foon.
In 2012, Winters acted in the art house drama film, Teddy Bear, for which the director Mads Matthiesen won the best directing award at the Sundance Film Festival. It won and was nominated for awards in over 11 film festivals including The European Film Awards, The Art Film Festival, and the Athens International Film Festival.
In 2013, he acted again as the main villain in a Thai Martial Arts film, Dragon Wolf.
Most recently, in 2015, David released his latest hit film, Dancin' It's On!, where he reconnected with his original passion for dancing. The film stars winners and runner-ups of the successful TV shows, So You Think You Can Dance, and Dancing with the Stars. The film won the Wide Screen Film Festival for best director, best editor, and best score. It had a three-month theatrical run, and on DVD and Blu-ray was twice shipped in platinum quantities to major outlets throughout the United States.
Winters' production companies
Action International Pictures was organized by Winters with partners David A. Prior and Peter Yuval in 1986, the same year as the Thrashin' incident. Winters bought out his partners in AIP in 1992 and re-branded it as West Side Studios. In 2004 their Equator Films purchased HandMade Films. His current American production entity is known as Alpha Beta Films International.
- The Emmy Awards, gave him their first ever nomination to a Dance Choreographer. He is noted for influencing the Emmy's committee in creating a specific category for dance choreography.
- Winters came forward with alternate theories about the death of his friend David Carradine.
- With his production company AIP, Winters as produced 3 films which are considered so bad that they are good. This includes Space Mutiny who had successful episode dedicated to it on the TV show MST3K. Also Deadly Prey and Aerobicide found a big audience on Youtube, and were eventually released on Blu-ray. Also a sequel to Deadly Prey was made without Winters producing, but with the original director David A. Prior.
- The Last Horror Film, which he directed, is noted to be the second and last film theatrically released with Joe Spinell as the lead.
- 1986 was a turning point for Winters. After being overruled on a casting decision for Thrashin', Winters made the professional decision to control all aspects of future projects. Josh Brolin was ultimately cast, but Winters' choice was a pre-21 Jump Street Johnny Depp.
From 1973 to 1975, Winters' girlfriend was Linda Lovelace. According IMDB, he was married for some time to a women named J'Len Winters, and has a son named Alexander, who also works in the industry.
- Studio One (1 episode, 1950)
- The United States Steel Hour (1 episode, 1954)
- Naked City (1 episode, 1958)
- The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor (1 episode, 1961)
- West Side Story (1961)
- Take Her, She's Mine (Uncredited, 1963)
- The New Interns (1964)
- Burke's Law (1 episode, 1965)
- Love on a Rooftop (1 episode, 1967)
- Blackbeard (2006)
- Teddy Bear (2012)
- Viva Las Vegas (1964)
- Pajama Party (1964)
- Girl Happy (Uncredited, 1965)
- Tickle Me (1965)
- Made in Paris (1966)
- Lucy in London (1966)
- Monte Carlo: C'est La Rose (1968)
- Ann-Margret: From Hollywood with Love (1969)
- The Special London Bridge Special (1972)
- Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
- Roller Boogie (1979)
- The Ann-Margret Show (1968)
- Once Upon a Wheel (also Producer, 1971)
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1973)
- Welcome to my Nightmare (1975)
- Racquet (1979)
- The Last Horror Film (1982)
- That Was Rock (1984)
- Girls of Rock & Roll (1985)
- Thrashin' (1986)
- Rage to Kill (1987)
- The Mission... Kill (1987)
- Space Mutiny (1988)
- Fight and Revenge (1997; lost film)
- Dancin' It's On! (2015)
- Raquel! (1970)
- Once Upon a Wheel (also Director, 1971)
- Linda Lovelace for President (Executive producer, 1975)
- Deadly Prey (Executive producer, 1986)
- Mankillers (Executive producer, 1986)
- Space Mutiny (1988)
- Hell on the Battleground (1989)
- Future Force (1989)
- Future Zone (1990)
- The Final Sanction (1990)
- Firehead (1991)
- Raw Nerve (Executive producer, 1991)
- Raw Justice (1994)
- Welcome 2 Ibiza (2002)
- The King Maker (2005)
Awards and nominations
|Year||Award||Result||Category||Film or series|
|1968||Emmy Award||Nominated||Special Classification of Individual Achievements||Movin' with Nancy|
|1970||Outstanding Achievement in Choreography||Ann-Margret: From Hollywood with Love|
|1971||Best International Sports Documentary||Won||TV Special||Once Upon a Wheel|
|World Television Festival Award||TV Special|
|1972||Christopher Award||Won||TV Special||Timex All Star Swing Festival (Shared with Burt Rosen, Bernard Rothman, and Jack Wohl)|
|2002||Bangkok Film Festival||Won||Audience Award for Best Picture||Welcome 2 Ibiza|
|2002||WideScreen Film & Music Video Festival||Won||Best Director||Dancin' It's On!|
- Singer, Michael; Toris Von Wolfe; Vera Anderson (1987). "David Winters". Film Directors: A Complete Guide. Carson City, Nevada: Lone Eagle Productions, Inc. p. 427. ISBN 978-0-943728-17-9.
- "David Winters profile". filmreference.com. Retrieved 2008-11-14.
- "HandMade plc". Financial Times. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
- Walden, Celia, "Stone's Ollywood", Chatham, Kent, Telegraph.co.UK: 14 December 2007
- Who is David Winters?
- Oliver Stone – Stone's Hollywood Plans for Thailand
- "Stone to build studio in Thailand" Digital Spy
- "Last days of David Carradine". Maxim. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
- "MST3K: Space Mutiny Eccentric Cinema, Winner EW Best of Web 2007".
- "Best of the web 2007". Entertainment Weekly.
- Winters, David (1986). "Audio Commentary Track", Thrashin, DVD, MGM Home Video
- Tyner, Adam (August 5, 1993). "Thrashin'". Retrieved 2008-09-29.
... something [which the cast] found so astonishing that they apparently called Depp's girlfriend in the middle of the commentary to find out if it's actually true.
- David Winters at the Internet Movie Database
- on 's channelYouTube
- David Winters at AllMovie
- David Winters at the Internet Broadway Database
- David Winters tribute site
- Profile, Video.aol.com
- Interview, Darrinland.com
- Net images of Winters as Silas Bridges in Blackbeard (2006), hotflix.net
- Profile, dvdizer.com
- Profile, gokpop.com
- Profile, fanpix.net; accessed August 15, 2015.