BEVERLY HILLS—Dancer and choreographer Miriam Nelson, who left her creative mark in films like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and collaborated with with the likes of Judy Garland, passed away on August 12.
Nelson died in her Beverly Hills home, according to longtime friend James Gray. She was 98.
Nelson, was born Miriam Lois Frankel in Chicago, Illinois on September 21, 1919. Dancing since childhood, the choreographer specialized in tap. At the age of 14, she and her family moved to New York, where she performed with dance partner Van Johnson in Billy Rose’s Casa Manana. Six years later, she made her Broadway debut in “Sing Out the News.” Continuing her Broadway run, Nelson worked with Cole Porter, Oscar Hammerstein and other notable Hollywood personalities.
In 1941, she married her first husband Gene Nelson and moved to California, where she landed her seven-year contract with Paramount Studios. Her film career began with roles and appearances in “Pillow Talk,” “Cover Girl,” and “Double Indemnity.” As her career and choreography progressed, Nelson worked with Walt Disney, Ginger Rogers and Bob Hope.
Following her divorce with Nelson in 1956, Miriam married her second husband, Jack Myers in 1965. He died 23 years later.
Beyond her dance career, Nelson became a founding member of the non-profit SHARE (Share Happily and Reap Endlessly), which raised funds for abused, disabled and neglected children. According to The Hollywood Reporter, she was honored at the organization’s 65th event.
In 2009, Nelson published her autobiography titled “My life Dancing With the Stars,” which offers an inside look to the choreographer’s work in the American dance scene.
Nelson is survived by her son Chris, grandsons Josh and Matt and great-granddaughter Emma.