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Carol Haney

Carol Haney (December 24, 1924 - May 10, 1964) was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts and opened a dancing school when she was fifteen years old. After high school, Haney left her home town for Hollywood and landed bit parts in movies until she was spotted by legendary choreographer- dancer Jack Cole, becoming his dance partner and assistant from 1946-8. In 1949, Haney was hired by Gene Kelly to be his assistant choreographer, and aided Kelly in some of his best work, including On The Town, Summer Stock, An American in Paris, Singin' in the Rain, and Kelly's dream project, Invitation to the Dance. When Haney danced with Bob Fosse in Kiss Me, Kate, she impressed Fosse so much that he compared her to Marilyn Monroe. When Fosse landed his first Broadway choreographing assignment for The Pajama Game, he recommended that Haney be cast in a small dancing part. When Haney joined the cast, she impressed director George Abbott so much that Abbott took her role and combined it with a major part, resulting in the character of Gladys Hotchkiss. The role shot Haney to instant fame in 1954, and won her a Tony Award, and two Donaldson awards.

Carol Haney is indirectly responsible for actress Shirley MacLaine's rise to fame. A month into the run of The Pajama Game, Haney injured her leg. Shirley MacLaine, as Carol Haney's understudy, heard many stories from other dancers that Haney had one of the most durable bodies around. MacLaine thought that she would never get a break, and the day Haney injured herself, MacLaine was about to hand in her notice of resignation to audition for Gwen Verdon's understudy role in Can Can. However, when MacLaine arrived at the theatre, she was told to go on as understudy. The crowd booed and hissed when they found out that Haney would not be performing that night, but MacLaine's long career in showbusiness was kickstarted.

Haney's continued to work after her big break on stage, appearing frequently on television, choreographing on several Broadway shows (notably Flower Drum Song and Funny Girl). She recreated her performance as Gladys in the film version of The Pajama Game.

Carol Haney died in 1964, some months into the run of Funny Girl, the show that she was choreographing. Her death, caused by pneumonia, was complicated by diabetes and alcoholism.