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March 27, 2023

Unfolding the Legacy of Herbert Ross: a Journey Through his Iconic Cinematic Works

Herbert Ross was a renowned American filmmaker and choreographer who left an indelible mark on Hollywood. He directed some of the most iconic films of the 20th century and made unique contributions to dance on the silver screen.

Through this blog post, let us take a journey through his iconic cinematic works and explore his life and work.

Introduction to Herbert Ross

Herbert Ross was born in Brooklyn on May 13, 1927. He was a dancer who started his career in the world of ballet, where he soon became a famous choreographer. In the 1960s, he shifted his focus to directing films and found success in Hollywood. He directed more than 20 films during his career, many of which became cult classics.

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The Movies that Shaped Herbert Ross’ Career

Herbert Ross made his feature film directorial debut with “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1969), based on the popular novel by James Hilton. This melodrama set in an all-boys’ school earned six Oscar nominations.

Ross’ biggest commercial and critical success was “The Turning Point” (1977), a drama about two ballerinas, played by Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft. The film earned eleven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and won four (none in the major categories).

The Dance and Music in Herbert Ross’ Films

Herbert Ross was a choreographer before he became a filmmaker, and he always brought his love for dance into his films. In “The Turning Point,” he highlighted the differences between classical ballet and modern dance, and showed the toll that a dancing career can take on one’s body.

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In his musical films such as “The Goodbye Girl” (1977), “Pennies From Heaven” (1981), and “Footloose” (1984), Ross showcased his talents in creating energetic dance numbers. He also had a knack for using popular music in his films.

The Collaborations that Shaped Herbert Ross’ Career

Herbert Ross often worked with certain actors and crew members throughout his career, developing long-term relationships with them that enhanced his filmmaking. Ross worked with Richard Dreyfuss in “The Goodbye Girl” and “Let it Ride,” Steve Martin in “Pennies from Heaven,” and Kevin Bacon in “Footloose.”

He also worked with screenwriter Neil Simon on several films, including “The Goodbye Girl,” “California Suite,” and “Max Dugan Returns.” His collaboration with composer Marvin Hamlisch was also significant, with the two of them working together on “The Turning Point,” “The Goodbye Girl,” and “The Sting II.”

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Herbert Ross’ Legacy

Herbert Ross is fondly remembered for his contributions to Hollywood and the world of dance. He made some of the best-loved films of the 1970s and 1980s and gave opportunities to several actors and filmmakers.

Even though he passed away in 2001, his work continues to inspire filmmakers and audiences today.


1. Which was Herbert Ross’ first film as a director?
Herbert Ross’ directorial debut was “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1969).

2. Which Herbert Ross film won eleven Oscar nominations?
“The Turning Point” (1977) received eleven Oscar nominations.

3. Who were the actors with whom Herbert Ross collaborated often?
Herbert Ross worked with Richard Dreyfuss, Steve Martin, and Kevin Bacon on several occasions.

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4. Did Herbert Ross have a background in dance?
Yes, Herbert Ross was a dancer who started his career in ballet.

5. How did Herbert Ross showcase dance in his films?
Herbert Ross often included dance scenes and numbers in his films, and he always highlighted the art form’s beauty.

6. What was Herbert Ross’ biggest commercial and critical success?
“The Turning Point” (1977) was Herbert Ross’ biggest commercial and critical success.

7. When did Herbert Ross pass away?
Herbert Ross passed away on October 9, 2001.


Herbert Ross was an iconic filmmaker who left an indelible mark on the world of cinema. His films continue to inspire and entertain audiences. His legacy lives on through the many actors, filmmakers, and dancers he collaborated with throughout his career. Watch his films for yourself and enjoy the magic that made him a Hollywood legend.

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