Denis George Mahan
June 15, 1950
|Occupation(s)||Choreographer, television personality, actor|
Early life and career
Raised in Titusville, Florida, Terrio achieved fame as the dance coach and choreographer for John Travolta in the movie Saturday Night Fever (1978). During his heyday with Dance Fever, he appeared in a number of films, including The Idolmaker (1980), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), A Night in Heaven (1983) and Knights of the City (1986), and guest starred on popular television series of the time, including The Love Boat. Throughout the 1990s, he toured nightclubs, performing with Motion and judging dance contests.
Terrio has appeared on several VH1 specials and co-hosted the 2004 PBS special Get Down Tonight: The Disco Explosion, which featured many popular disco artists from the 1970s and actress Karen Lynn Gorney. During the show, Terrio and Gorney danced to Tavares’ live performance of "More Than a Woman", as Gorney had with Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.
In 1991, Terrio sued Merv Griffin, the producer of Dance Fever, for sexual harassment; the US$11.3 million case was later dismissed. In 2015, Terrio sued the toy company Hasbro in a federal court for creating an animated gecko and toy figurine named Vinnie Terrio, alleging that his publicity rights were violated by the gecko and figurine. In February 2016, Terrio and Hasbro settled his claims out of court.
In popular culture
In the stand-up comedy special Eddie Murphy Raw (1987), Murphy makes a joke referencing an encounter with Terrio, prompting his father to inquire as to why he was with Terrio in the first place.
Terrio was referred to in the Steve Martin movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), in which Martin's character, a con man and hustler named Freddy Benson, poses as a disabled veteran as part of a plan to extract money from a rich woman. In order to induce her pity, Benson claims that he lost use of his legs after he found his girlfriend having sex with Terrio.
In the final episode of season 1 of Modern Family, Claire tells Phil he looks like Deney Terrio. Jay incorrectly replies that Terrio was a 1970s disco dancer from Ohio.
- "Movies". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 7 July 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
- O'Connor, John (June 29, 2012). "First Person: Deney Terrio". Financial Times. Archived from the original on July 6, 2012.
- "$11.3M lawsuit filed". The Victoria Advocate. No. yr. 146 no. 245. 1992-01-08. p. 6C. Retrieved 13 March 2023.
- "Questioning Merv's Sexuality". EDGE Boston. August 12, 2007.
- "'Dance Fever' Host Deney Terrio Suing Hasbro, Says Cartoon Gecko Stole His Moves". The Wrap. 10 February 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
- "Hasbro Settles With 'Saturday Night Fever' Mentor In TM Suit". Law360. Retrieved 21 November 2018.