b. Elizabeth Watson, 17 December 1938, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. Taught initially by her mother, a dance teacher, Watson developed into a skilled dancer and singer. She performed in summer stock companies and also studied at the Juilliard School of Music and Dance. She first attracted attention with her performance in the 1958 London production of West Side Story (1958). Back in the USA, she played in various off-Broadway productions. She was seen in one of these by Gower Champion, who cast her in his Broadway production of Bye, Bye Birdie (1960). Watson played the role of Kim McAfee through the show’s 607 performances. She was then in Kean (1961) and was replacement lead in the national tour of Carnival (1962), before appearing again on Broadway in Ben Franklin In Paris (1964, opposite Robert Preston) and A Joyful Noise (1966). Watson was effective in all of these shows, and although the latter was a one-week flop, she was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Featured Actress. Also in the mid-60s she appeared in revivals and staged presentations of musicals such as Carousel, Oklahoma! and Where’s Charley?, at venues including the Lincoln Center and the New York City Center. She appeared in a television version of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s The Fantasticks, where her performance prompted the composers to offer her a role in their Celebration (1969). In 1971 she played the lead in a very successful revival of No, No, Nanette, in which Jack Gilford also appeared, their duet on ‘I Want To Be Happy’ being a nightly showstopper. In the early 00s, Watson was still very active, playing in regional theatre. Her sister, Janet Watson, is a choreographer and is married to Jones.
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