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Onna White
Born(1922-03-24)March 24, 1922
DiedApril 8, 2005(2005-04-08) (aged 83)
Occupation(s)Choreographer and dancer
SpouseLarry Douglas (1948–1959)

Onna White (March 24, 1922 – April 8, 2005) was a Canadian choreographer and dancer, nominated for eight Tony Awards.[1]

Early life and career

Born in Inverness, Nova Scotia, White began taking dance lessons at the age of twelve, and eventually her studies took her to the San Francisco Ballet, where she danced in the first full-length U.S. production of The Nutcracker.[2]

Her first Broadway performance was in Finian's Rainbow in 1947. Her next Broadway assignment was in Hold It! (1948), where she had progressed to dance captain. By 1950, in the long-running Broadway production of Guys and Dolls, she both performed and assisted the choreographer, Michael Kidd, beginning an association that lasted through Silk Stockings various productions until, in 1956, she choreographed her first Broadway show, Carmen Jones. She choreographed both the Broadway (1957) and screen (1962) versions of The Music Man. Other Broadway shows included Take Me Along (1959), Irma La Douce (1960), I Had a Ball (1964), Half a Sixpence (1965), Mame (1966, and the 'film version in 1974), 1776 (musical) (1969 and the film version in 1972), Gigi (1973) and I Love My Wife (1977), among others.[3]

Personal life

She married actor Larry Douglas in 1948, who was an understudy to Robert Preston in The Music Man; they divorced in 1959.[4] They had two children: Jeanne and Stuart. In 1964, Douglas married Susan Luckey, who played the role of Zaneeta in the film of The Music Man.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted White an Academy Honorary Award for Oliver! (1968), one of the rare occasions that the Academy recognized choreography in film. Other recipients include Gene Kelly for "career achievements", Jerome Robbins for "choreographic achievement on film", Michael Kidd (White's mentor) for "services to the art of dance in the art of the screen" and Stanley Donen for "body of work". Fred Astaire's was much earlier, and was for his body of work.

White's Oscar is the only one that states the name of a film, i.e. "To Onna White for her outstanding choreography achievement for Oliver!"[citation needed]

Theater credits

Choreographed films

Tony Award nominations


  1. ^ "Onna White, 83, Choreographer Who Won Oscar for 'Oliver!,' Dies". The New York Times. Associated Press. April 11, 2005. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
  2. ^ [1] Archived March 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. San Francisco Ballet.
  3. ^ "Onna White", Internet Broadway Database, accessed September 19, 2023
  4. ^ Kilgallen, Dorothy (March 9, 1959). "Voice of Broadway". Republican and Herald. p. 4. Retrieved November 26, 2022 – via