b. 17 November 1911, Pasadena, California, USA, d. 13 August 1982, Malibu, California, USA. A distinguished choreographer and director for some of the classic film musicals from the 40s through to 60s; his work is well-known, but his name is not so familiar. Walters studied at the University of Southern California before joining the famous Fanchon and Marco road shows as a dancer in 1934. In the late 30s he danced in several Broadway shows including Between The Devil and Du Barry Was A Lady (1939), and subsequently worked as a stage director before moving to Hollywood and making his debut as a choreographer for the Lucille Ball -Victor Mature RKO movieSeven Days Leave (1942). He then switched to MGM, and continued to direct the dance routines in top musicals such as Presenting Lily Mars, Du Barry Was A Lady, Girl Crazy, Best Foot Forward, Broadway Rhythm, Meet Me In St. Louis, The Harvey Girls, Ziegfeld Follies, and Summer Holiday (1947). At that stage producer Arthur Freed assigned Walters as director for the 1947 remake of Good News with June Allyson and Peter Lawford, and his deft handling of this fairly complicated project led to him directing a variety of mostly entertaining musicals starring some of the Studio’s major stars such as Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Esther Williams, Leslie Caron, and Frank Sinatra. They included Easter Parade, The Barkleys Of Broadway, Summer Stock, Texas Carnival, The Belle Of New York, Dangerous When Wet, Lili, Torch Song, Easy To Love, The Glass Slipper, The Tender Trap, and High Society (1956). Actually, The Tender Trap was not really a musical - more a sophisticated comedy with music - and in the late 50s Walters directed other comedies such as Don’t Go Near The Water and Please Don’t Eat The Daisies. By then, of course, the sun had set on the big budget movie musical, and after directing Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1962) and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), Walters left MGM. He made just one more picture, Walk, Don’t Run, for Columbia, which also happened to be Cary Grant’s screen swansong. His best films - particularly Lili, Easter Parade, High Society and Dangerous When Wet - are notable for their charm and élan, and the way in which the director uses the camera to create a wonderful feeling of movement. In later years Walters emerged from retirement intermittently to direct a few television situation comedies and Lucille Ball specials, and to give the occasional lecture. He died at the age of 70 of lung cancer.
Share this page