Tony Award Winner Liliane Montevecchi Dies at 85

Obituaries   Tony Award Winner Liliane Montevecchi Dies at 85
 
Montevecchi is best known to Broadway audiences for her acclaimed appearances in two Maury Yeston-Tommy Tune collaborations: Nine and Grand Hotel.
Liliane Montevecchi
Liliane Montevecchi Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Tony winner Liliane Montevecchi—the Paris-born dancer, actor, and singer—passed away June 29 at her Manhattan home at the age of 85 following a battle with colon cancer, according to The New York Times.

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Liliane Montevecchi Martha Swope/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

Born October 13, 1932, the triple threat, who had a zest for life and the stage, started her ballet studies when she was nine; by the time she was 18 she had joined Roland Petit's dance company, Les Ballets de Paris, where she eventually became a prima ballerina.

By the mid-50s, Hollywood had beckoned, and Montevecchi became a contract player for MGM, appearing in such films as The Glass Slipper, Daddy Long Legs, Moonfleet, Meet Me in Las Vegas, The Living Idol, The Sad Sack, The Young Lions, and more. Montevecchi returned to dancing in 1964 when she joined the Folies-Bergère in Las Vegas. She spent nine years working with that troupe and the Paris company.

Although she had made her Broadway debut in 1958 in La Plume de Ma Tante and appeared in the 1964 musical revue Folies Bergère, Montevecchi's breakthrough role was playing producer Liliane La Fleur in Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit's Nine, which was directed and choreographed by Tommy Tune and won the 1982 Tony Award for Best Musical. Montevecchi, who stopped the show with the appropriately titled “Folies Bergeres,” was also honored with the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical—a category that included two of her Nine co-stars, Karen Akers and the late Anita Morris.

Montevecchi would return to Broadway one more time, in 1989 in Grand Hotel—another musical that featured a score by Yeston (half of the score was by Robert Wright and George Forrest) and direction and choreography by Tune. Montevecchi, who was cast as prima ballerina Elizaveta Grushinskaya, earned a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.

She also starred in the 1998 Broadway-aimed Paper Mill Playhouse production of Follies, appeared in concerts at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and toured internationally with her semi-autobiographical shows On the Boulevard and Back on the Boulevards. She last appeared on the New York cabaret stage in 2016 at Feinstein's/54 Below.

Montevecchi, who is survived by longtime companion Claudio Saponi, was honored by the French Minister of Culture in 2013 as an Officer of Arts and Culture to France and the world. She will be buried in a private ceremony in Paris; a New York memorial service is expected.

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