Emile Ardolino
Ardolino at the 56th Academy Awards
Born(1943-05-09)May 9, 1943
DiedNovember 20, 1993(1993-11-20) (aged 50)
Resting placeSt. John Cemetery, New York, U.S.
Occupation(s)Television director, television producer, film director, film producer
Notable workDirty Dancing
Sister Act

Emile Ardolino (May 9, 1943 – November 20, 1993) was an American television and film director and producer, best known for his work on the films Dirty Dancing (1987) and Sister Act (1992). He won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for his film He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin' (1983).[1]

Early life and career

Ardolino was born in Maspeth, a neighborhood of Queens, the son of Italian immigrants Ester (nee Pesiri) and Emilio Ardolino.[2]

He began his career as an actor in Off-Broadway productions, and then moved to the production side of the business. In 1967, he founded Compton-Ardolino Films with Gardner Compton.[1] In the 1970s and 1980s, Ardolino worked for PBS. He profiled dancers and choreographers for their Dance in America and Live from Lincoln Center series.

Ardolino won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for the 1983 film He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin'.[3][4] He found commercial success with the Academy Award-winning 1987 hit Dirty Dancing.[5]


Ardolino died in California on November 20, 1993, of complications from AIDS. His last films, The Nutcracker (based on George Balanchine's New York City Ballet adaptation) and the television production of Gypsy starring Bette Midler, were released and shown posthumously. Ardolino is buried beside his parents at St. John Cemetery in New York.

Personal life

Ardolino was openly gay.[6]


Partial filmography


  1. ^ a b "Emile Ardolino, Director, Is Dead; Specialist in Dance Films Was 50". The New York Times. November 22, 1993. p. B12.
  2. ^ "FamilySearch". FamilySearch.
  3. ^ Documentary Winners: 1984 Oscars
  4. ^ 1984|Oscars.org
  5. ^ "During this week in history, "Dirty Dancing" was released in U.S. theaters". FOX 13 News Utah (KSTU). 2022-08-19. Retrieved 2023-06-08.
  6. ^ "The New York Times biography of Emile Ardolino". Archived from the original on 2006-04-16. Retrieved 2005-10-29.
  7. ^ Emile Ardolino - Emmy Awards, Nominations and Wins
  8. ^ He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin' (23 minute version) by National Dance Institute on YouTube