Zina Bethune

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Zina Bethune
Zina Bethune 1968.JPG
Bethune in 1968
Zina Bianca Bethune

(1945-02-17)February 17, 1945
Staten Island, New York City, U.S.
DiedFebruary 12, 2012(2012-02-12) (aged 66)
Cause of deathHit-and-run accident
Resting placeMount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery
OccupationActor, ballet dancer, choreographer and teacher
Years active1951–2006
Known forTheater Bethune
Sean Feeley (m. 1970)
  • William Charles Bethune
  • Ivy Bethune

Zina Bianca Bethune (February 17, 1945 – February 12, 2012) was an American actress, dancer, and choreographer.

Early years[edit]

Bethune was born on Staten Island, the daughter of Ivy (née Vigder, 1918–2019), an actress, and William Charles Bethune, a sculptor and painter who died in 1950 when Zina was 5 years old.[1][2]

Theater and Dance[edit]

Bethune began her formal ballet training aged 6 at George Balanchine's School of American Ballet.[3]

By age 14 she was dancing with the New York City Ballet as Clara in the original 1954 Balanchine production of The Nutcracker. Bethune's first professional acting role was at age 6, with a small part in the off-Broadway play Monday's Heroes, produced by Stella Holt at the Greenwich Mews Theater.[4]


As a child performer, Bethune appeared in the original cast of The Most Happy Fella as well as several American daytime television dramas, including a stint as the first "Robin Lang" on The Guiding Light from May 1956 to April 1958. Bethune played President Franklin D. Roosevelt's daughter in Sunrise at Campobello in 1960.[citation needed]

Newspaper columnist Dick Kleiner described Bethune's performance in a 1958 television production as a "shatteringly beautiful portrayal of Tennessee Williams' young heroine in This Property Is Condemned."[5]

In October 1958, she portrayed Amy March in the CBS musical adaptation of Little Women.[6]

She portrayed nurse Gail Lucas on The Nurses (1962–65),[7] and appeared in other series, including Kraft Television Theatre (with Martin Huston in the series finale), Route 66, The Judy Garland Show, Pantomime Quiz, Hollywood Squares, Young Dr. Malone, Dr. Kildare, The Invaders and Emergency!


Bethune starred as "The Girl" alongside Harvey Keitel in Martin Scorsese's first feature film, Who's That Knocking at My Door, released in 1967, although much of it (including Bethune's acting parts) was filmed in 1965 for Scorsese's student film project at New York University.

Other work[edit]

Throughout her life, Bethune worked with disabled students. She herself was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11, and at 17 she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia.

Bethune founded Bethune Theatredanse in 1981, a multimedia performance company which has been designated as the official resident company of the Los Angeles Theatre Center.

She founded Dance Outreach, now known as Infinite Dreams, in 1982, which currently enrolls about 1,000 disabled children in dance-related activities throughout Southern California.


On February 12, 2012, five days before her 67th birthday, Zina Bethune was killed in an apparent hit and run accident while she was trying to help an injured opossum in Griffith Park, Los Angeles. She was survived by her husband, Sean Feeley, and her mother.[4]


  1. ^ Zina Bethune profile at FilmReference.com
  2. ^ "Ivy Bethune profile at". filmreference.com. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  3. ^ Online biography at Dance Teacher Magazine website Archived December 17, 2004, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b Hevesi, Dennis (February 18, 2012). "Zina Bethune Dies at 66; Actress, Dancer and Choreographer". The New York Times. p. A24.
  5. ^ Kleiner, Dick (October 7, 1958). "Actress Wants to Dance". Shamokin News-Dispatch. Pennsylvania, Shamokin. p. 4. Retrieved August 8, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  6. ^ Ellenberger, Allan R. (2000). "Television". Margaret O'Brien: A Career Chronicle and Biography. McFarland & Company. p. 205. ISBN 0-7864-2155-X. Retrieved November 26, 2016 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. P. 776.

External links[edit]