Jacques d’Amboise, Ballet Legend and 'Carousel' Star, Dies at 86

Brian Welk

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Jacques d’Amboise, an icon of the New York City Ballet and an American choreographer, dancer and actor who appeared in musical films such as “Carousel” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” has died. He was 86.

His daughter and dancer Charlotte d’Amboise told The New York Times he died Sunday at his home in Manhattan of a stroke.

At just 15 years old, d’Amboise left school and was recruited by the New York City Ballet, quickly becoming one of the stars of the company and helping to erase stereotypes about male ballet dancers with both his elegance and masculinity on stage. By 1953 he was named principal dancer and had 24 roles by George Balanchine, including the seminal “Apollo.” He retired from the company just ahead of his 50th birthday in 1984, but he would continue to choreograph routines, including 17 works for the City Ballet and others for the National Dance Institute.

But d’Amboise also appeared in a handful of films, most notably “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (1954) where he played Ephraim Pontipee, and “Carousel” (1956), where he played a barker in the Starlight Carnival sequence of the film. Some of his other film and TV credits include “The Best Things In Life Are Free” (1956) and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (1967).

Jacques d’Amboise received the MacArthur Fellowship in 1990, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1995 and the National Medal of Arts in 1998. His wife Carolyn since 1956 died in 2009, and he had four children.

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