Dee Dee Wood Obituary, Legendary Choreographer Award Recipient Dee Dee Wood, Has Passed Away
- john Gibson
Dee Dee Wood Obituary, Death – Dee Dee Wood danced following her first high school ballet session. Her 1950s Broadway dance career began. After dancing in Guys And Dolls, Can Can, and Destry Rides Again, choreographer Michael Kidd asked her to assist on 1959’s Li’l Abner. Dee Dee choreographed the film after Kidd declined.
She and husband Mark Breaux choreographed Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Sound of Music dance scenes. “Their dances are unmatched for sheer exuberance,” wrote Roger Ebert. Nicholas Hammond, who played a von Trapp toddler in The Sound of Music, says Dee Dee “always made me giggle,” while Charmian Carr calls her “a fairy godmother.”
The Sound of Music’s Rolf and Liesel’s whirling around a rain-misted gazebo is a cinematic dance legend, and Mary Poppins’ breathtaking interlude co-starring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, and a quartet of penguins is one of the best live-action/animation combos.
Dee Dee performed at Super Bowl halftime, 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, and 1986 Liberty Weekend. Choreographing the Statue of Liberty’s 100th anniversary Closing Ceremonies earned her an Emmy. She choreographed Beaches, starring Bette Midler, and an HBO original Dream On episode.
Celebrities cooperated. She assisted Julie Andrews, Carol Burnett, George Burns, Cher, Bing Crosby, Billy Crystal, Bob Hope, Michael Jackson, Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, Danny Thomas, Tina Turner, Robin Williams, and others. Dick Van Dyke was her career highlight. Dee Dee advised Van Dyke move his family to Arizona.
His studios recorded a season of The New Dick Van Dyke Show in the early 1970s. Dee Dee earned the 1998 American Choreography Awards Lifetime Achievement Award and 2012 National Finals Gala Tremaine Legendary Choreographer Award. Even though she was semi-retired, she produced and choreographed musical theater for Desert Foothills Theatre and was the official spokesman for Arizona’s National Dance Week event, “Celebration of Dance.”
Dee Dee enjoyed collegiate artist conversations. Dancers, patrons, community members, dinner parties—she was comfortable with all. She shared her joys, early hardships, and passion with dancers. Disregard dance. Heartfelt speeches. She spoke. Dreaming, living. Her Broadway debut and Mary Poppins choreography for Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke focused on dance. She and her husband always emphasized, “Do what you love.”