by Stephanie Wild
BroadwayWorld has learned Alan Johnson, the choreographer best known for his work on the film version of West Side Story, as well as The Producers and other Mel Brooks films, has passed away in his sleep this morning.
Johnson is an award-winning choreographer, best known for his work on Mel Brooks films and for restaging Jerome Robbins original choreography in live productions of West Side Story in the United States and internationally. Johnson made his Broadway debut in West Side Story in 1957.
Johnson has choreographed musical numbers in several Brooks' films, such as the infamous "Springtime for Hitler" number in The Producers, the "Spanish Inquisition" dance number from the film, History of the World Part I and "Puttin' On the Ritz" in Young Frankenstein.
Stage productions he choreographed include Legs Diamond, The First, So Long 174th Street, Baker Street, Anyone Can Whistle, and No Strings. He also choreographed solo and revue shows for Shirley MacLaine, Leslie Uggams, Bernadette Peters, Tommy Tune, Chita Rivera and Ann-Margret.
Other films in which he worked as a choreographer include: Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), History of the World: Part I (1981) The World's Greatest Lover (1977), Cos (1976) TV Series, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975), Young Frankenstein (1974), Blazing Saddles (1974), The Producers (1968).
Johnson brought the West Side Story dance style back into the mainstream when he choreographed several Gap commercials in 2000, earning him an American Choreography award. He also choreographed commercials for Dubonnet and Freixenet Champagne.