David Winters

  • Born: (London, England, UK)
  • Died: (Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA) (age 80)

Born David Weizer in London, England, as a child and teenager David Winters acted in many television shows and Broadway productions, including the initial line-up of the stage production of the musical "West Side Story", playing the role of Baby John.

In 1961, he appeared as A-Rab in the movie version of West Side Story (1961), recreating the "Cool" dance sequence, which was choreographed for him. With Carole D'Andrea, Jay Norman, Tommy Abbott, William Bramley and Tony Mordente, they were the only members of the original Broadway Musical to be cast in the film. West Side Story (1961) was the highest grossing Motion Picture that year and went on to win 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The feature established David as a young star. He began to release music and had steady work acting.

In 1964, he got a big break as a choreographer for Viva Las Vegas (1964), starring Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret. It became a major hit, and many think it is the best Elvis Presley movie ever made. He was seen regularly with his dance troupe in major TV shows such as Shindig! (1964) and Hullabaloo (1965). To his resume, he added three more Elvis Presley films (Girl Happy (1965), Tickle Me (1965), Easy Come, Easy Go (1967)), four films with Ann-Margret (Kitten with a Whip (1964), Bus Riley's Back in Town (1965), Made in Paris (1966), The Swinger (1966)), The T.A.M.I. Show (1964), and many more projects for film and television.

In 1967, he received what he has called his biggest honor, his Emmy nomination for the choreography of the TV Movie Movin' with Nancy (1967). This was the first-ever Emmy nomination to a choreographer in the category "Special Classification of Individual Achievements". His nomination led to the creation of the Emmy's "Outstanding Achievement in Choreography" award, for which he was nominated in 1970. In 1967, he began to direct. His first assignments were for two episodes of the hit show The Monkees (1966).

Shortly after he started producing, directing, and doing the choreography for star-studded TV Specials. These include The Ann-Margret Show (1968), Ann-Margret: From Hollywood with Love (1969) (for which he received his second Emmy nomination for dance choreography), Raquel! (1970), Once Upon a Wheel (1971), The Special London Bridge Special (1972), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1973) (nominated for three Emmys), and Timex All-Star Swing Festival (1972) (which won a Peabody Award and a Christopher Award for Winters as producer).

Winters began to produce and directing feature films in 1975. His first effort was the concert film Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare (1975). This got rave reviews and is now considered to be one of the most creative rock shows ever made. Shortly after he was hired to choreograph A Star Is Born (1976), starring Barbra Streisand. It went on to win the Academy Award for best song as well as three other nominations. In 1982, he produced, directed, wrote, and co-starred in The Last Horror Film (1982), which he filmed guerrilla-style without permits during the Cannes Film Festival, and which went on to win numerous awards, including the Paris Film Festival Award, the Los Angeles Golden Scroll Award, and the Sitges Film Festival Award.

In 1986, he made the first film about skateboarding Thrashin' (1986), starring Academy Award Winner Josh Brolin, Sherilyn Fenn, and Chuck McCann. The movie is notable for using in it's soundtrack music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (who play a set in the film), Fine Young Cannibals, and The Bangles before their rise to fame. Still today the film has a big cult following. The next year (1987), he founded his own production company, "Action International Pictures", later renamed "West Side Studios", which independently produced and distributed more than 100 motion pictures until the mid 1990s.

In the 2000s, he directed Welcome 2 Ibiza (2003) which won the Bangkok Film Festival Audience Award. He also produced the historical epic The King Maker (2005) which won numerous prizes, and had a big theatrical release in Asia. It was distributed for Home Video by Sony in the USA, and by Universal in other countries. It was sold in thirty-six countries.

In 2015, he released his hit film, Dancin': It's On! (2015) where he reconnected with his original passion for dancing. The film stars winners and runner-ups of the successful TV shows So You Think You Can Dance (2005) and Dancing with the Stars (2005). The film won the Wide Screen Film Festival for best director, best editor, and best score. It had a three months theatrical run and, in DVD and Blu-ray, was shipped in platinum quantities twice to major outlets throughout the USA.

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