Germantown High School * Philadelphia, PA. * Class of 1957

Walter Painter

Memories of GHS

---I look back on my days at GHS and remember the sweetness of the era. I loved Marching in the band. I hope Bill Butler and George Fetherman realize how much their friendship meant to me. I have never forgotten them and don't plan to... ever. And I remember the way everyone would wonder about me. He's a what? A dancer? I did feel out of place. However as I got older I learned that just about every dancer in show business went through the same thing. Look at the musical A CHORUS LINE and that pretty much sums up what it felt like for me. Everything was Beautiful at the ballet. But who the hell was I?

Life After GHS

---I left GHS not knowing what I was going to do. I only knew that I wanted to be a dancer and I needed to be in New York City. How I was going to manage this was a big problem. I was poor and my parents had no financial means to help me out. The year I graduated, 1957, I decided to work as a stock clerk/delivery boy for the summer in Cape May NJ at a liquor store.

---I saved $300 and that fall moved to New York City to study ballet. I began at Ballet Theater School and was a waiter at night. I learned quickly and six months later landed a replacement spot in the Broadway Show FLOWER DRUM SONG. We toured all over the USA and after 18 months I was lucky to land a part in West Side Story. After that I found myself in Las Vegas recreating the spot I had in Flower Drum Song at a Vegas hotel. I played there for six months and then, after way too much partying, moved to Los Angeles. LA was very different from anything I had ever known. What a trip...Palm trees! I started once again as a waiter. After a time I landed a job at the Sacramento Music Circus. Summer Theater in the round. We did 10 shows. Rehearsed one during the day and performed another at night. After that I came back to LA and started auditioning for movies and television. I got my first job dancing in a movie with Ann-Margret and Elvis Presley.

---VIVA LAS VEGAS. This led to other movies and TV specials. Some, not all, were 3 more Elvis pictures, two more with Ann-Margret and finally ending my dancing career with the film musical SWEET CHARITY. I danced with Tina Turner, Raquel Welch and Ann Miller on the HOLLYWOOD PALACE, I was a regular dancer on SHINDIG and wound up dancing with ANN-Margret in Las Vegas in her first night club act. We opened at the Riveria Hotel and wow were we a hit. One of the highlights in my career. Later I joined another company of West Side Story. Now once you've danced West Side Story you sort of feel like it can't get any better. I needed another challenge. I looked to choreography. I had overwhelming support from Ann-Margret. Ann-Margret really invented me as a choreographer. The first 5 years of my choreographic career I worked just for her and her husband Roger Smith. I met my wife Charlene about this time and we were married in 1970 and we are still happily married and living in LA. Since Ann- Margret gave me my first break I have won seven EMMY nominations and have won three EMMY AWARDS. I have staged the musical numbers for one Broadway Show CITY OF ANGELS. I have created one man shows for: Bernadette Peters, Joel Grey, Ann-Margaret, Suzanne Sommers and Tony Danza to name a few. I have directed two renditions of Ringling Bros. Barnum Bailey Circus and the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta GA. Currently I'm preparing a show for a French singer SYLVIE VARTAN opening in Paris Sept. 2004.

---I live in LA with my wife Charlene and two children Walter Jr. and daughter Christina.

---Charlene and I send our warm regards and best wishes to all who are attending and hope that this event will long be well remembered. We're so very disappointed that we can't be present at the reunion. I'm working on a new show...something I hope I'll always be doing. Let's stay in touch!

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Special Thanks to Lois Addison for Scanning Yearbook Photos &
Special Thanks to Katherina Kripl Bonner for sending Lois Her Copy of the June 1957 Yearbook
& to George Palmer for sending Lois His Copy of the January 1957 Yearbook.

This Page Updated 08/15/04 gwf