Remembering Thommie Walsh
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ProEthics President: Jack Marshall
I met Thommie when I was 9 years old and cast in "Nine". I have always
looked up to Thommie and held him in the highest regard. I learned a
lot from him, and I'm so thankful to have had him as a role model while
I was growing up. I will cherish my memories of him - I even kept the
ribbons he gave us on opening night.
Laura Kenyon just told me about Thommie's passing. From here in Maine, where I now live with my son, we send our deepest sympathies to all of Thommie's loved ones. He was a special man.
My Granddaughter and I went on one of the bus trips that Ellie and Barb sponsored . Carrie at this time was about 14 or 15 years of age. Wanting to make the New York Trip special we saw two Broadway shows, shopped at Bloomingdale's, She had her makeup done in Bloomies by the Yves St Laurent makeup specialist. When we arrived home on Sunday Night. Carrie's father met us . He asked Carrie ."What was your very favorite thing you did in NYC?" She didn't even have to think about it and answered abruptly. "I met THOMMIE WALSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A wonderful memory,
I first met Thommie when I was sixteen at the Americana Hotel (now Sheraton Centre) in New York City in 1978. It was at the Hoctor's Dance Caravan Faculty Show and we ended up sitting next to each other in the reserved seating area in the audience. At that point I didn't know who he was and he had no idea of who this kid was. We sat there looking at each other smiling and nodding at each other waiting for the show to start.
Danny Hoctor came out onstage and proceeded to introduce the special guests in the audience. First was "Thommie Walsh, The Prince of Broadway,and fabulous Broadway sensation at that point Thommie stood up turned around with a certain graciousness and smile that was mesmerizing and the response was that of a Rock Star, screaming and cheering that pierced your eardrums. At that point I was shocked, "oh my gosh I'm sitting next to a celebrity!" inside I was screaming, outside I was trying to stay calm. He sat down and smiled and winked at me. Second was me, a girl from Alabama who was getting her first dance break with the Rockettes and I sat there in fear, "thinking no one knows me no one will applaud, what do I do". Then when Danny announced my name it hit me so I stood up and did exactly how Thommie had done to the audience. He looked up at me with this big smile laughing and applauding so loud. That was the beginning of a over thirty year friendship and when I would tell him that story, which I did over and over again, he would always say... Sonnnya, stopppp it! with that wonderful laugh that I can still hear...
I miss you Thommie...with all my love, Sonya
Condolences to all,
Although not personally knowing Thommie, I would brag as if I did to others about my hometown boy who shinned in A Chorus Line and other spectacular shows. Broadway is dim today.
Wishing I was in my hometown of Auburn tonight to honor Thommie Walsh.
Kiss today goodbye . . . and Thommie, too.
Lynn Guiffrida Maggio
I met Thommie 32 years old through my best friend, Kit Andree at a PDTA conference in Winter Park, Colorado. My daughter Leslie, was 10 years old at the time. Thommie's love, encouragement and tremendous talent, helped Leslie to achieve her dream of becoming a professional dancer. Thommie always had time to talk or meet for a late dinner when I was in New York on business and it was always as if we had just seen each other -- even if several years had gone by. He was a big bright star that will live on in our hearts through all eternity.
In September, I went to Donna McKechnies book signing. As I waited for the event to start, I went upstairs at the Drama Bookstore. I started to read the book and a man came over to me and asked me how I am enjoying the book. I had no idea who this person was, he was very polite and friendly. I told him how much I loved A Chorus Line, and showed him the book I bought also. He then said, I wrote that book. I almost collapsed, it was Thommie. I told him how much I loved the show, and we chatted for a few minutes. He also autographed my book.
He introduced me to Baayork Lee and then I met Don Percassi, and Priscilla Lopez.
It was a night I will never forget.
I was saddened to hear about his death. I will always remember the night in September 2006 because of him, it will always be with me.
I met and worked with Thommie on 2 Mitzi Gaynor shows as their production and tour manager in the 80's. He and Baayork Lee pulled together a new 2-hour review every other year for Mitzi. We'd build and rehearse the shows in LA in Tanya Lichine's studios (do any of you remember Tanya and Irina?), then we'd go up to Vancouver and work out the show in the little Princess Theatre there for a few weeks. It was a wonderful time in my life and I suspect their's also.
I was always mesmerized by Thommie - he did that to you when you first saw that mug. We would go to Moonshadows after rehearsal and he's puff on his cigarette trying to polish in his head something he's created that day in the studio . His famous ..."Duooooll... would get you to do anything for him" It seemed like steps just flowed from him. He was a constant professional, a generous and kind person to work with and a truly gifted talent.
I just recently purchased some Bob Mackie drawings from a benefit to the Dancer's Fund in LA which were created for the 'Disney Show' that Thommie created for Mitzi. I had every intention of contacting Thommie in the near future while in New York to send him the 'Minnie Mouse' sketch as a memory - only to then read this news last week. (Baayork where are you?)
My heart truly goes out to his family and to all of his extended Chorus Line family.
Hat's off Thommie - you changed a lot of lives. Now you're with Astaire and Rogers.
It was 1968. A still chilly May nite. I was a freshman at Mount Carmel. This particular evening was the Spring Recital for the Girl's Glee Club. The gym was cavernous. The folding chairs cold. But the songs were 1960's upbeat and we were all smiles and tapping along. Intermission came. Intermission went. The anticipation buzzed. Thommie Walsh was backstage. The stage lights dimmed to a soft blue and a breathless hush fell over the room. Suddenly he was here! And over there! And back there again. "Isn't he amazing", we all said. Immediately we forgot that dodge ball or volley ball was ever played here. And we never forgot that Thommie Walsh did.
Dear Mrs. Walsh and Barb,
Rest In Peace Thommie. You will be truly missed. Thank you for touching so many lives with your talent, your smile and your beautiful heart.
Our family remembers many happy gatherings with the Walsh family. Thommie was a light in their lives and never seemed to lose touch with his roots. In the height of his career he took the time to listen to my daughter sing and offer her honest and encouraging words. Deepest sympathies from the family of Bob and Norma Malcolm.
Jackie Malcolm-Dziedzic (Queensbury, NY)
Ellie and Barb
We're sorry for your loss of your son and brother. He sure left the world a better place and I'm know he inspired many others to live their dreams. Our thoughts are with you.
When I worked at the Holiday Inn, Auburn, I knew Peggy Walsh. She was so proud of her cousin, Tommie. I saw "A Chorus Line" five times! He insired hundreds of Auburn citizens to believe in their dreams. What a wonderful legacy Tommie leaves for all of us who admire dancers and gracious people.
So many names of friends have been forgotten over the years...but not Thommie's. I attended East High a year below him but didn't know him until I danced with him in ballet class. I had the pleasure of studying with Dick Sias in "Finian's Rainbow" and Thommie was in the musical as well. He was an inspiration and I kept up with his future achievements. So proud! My heartfelt condolences are with you all and I plan on paying my respects at St. Joseph's on a future visit. My dad is laid to rest there as well.
Thommie was a gem. We met in 1986 when he directed the WAVES dance troupe in "Dancin' In The Streets" at the Tropicana A.C., and I was Company Manager. Thommie was intelligent, wonderfully funny and open to teaching us all that we needed to learn. Through the years we kept in touch, remembering each other at holidays and on Valentines Day ... when he sent handmade cards which I treasure. Thommie also directed Myles Thoroughgood's one man show at the NYC Fringe Festival a few years ago, which gave the three of us time to reminisce from our days with WAVES. I miss Thommie, and will always remember his heart and humor.
I am so sorry to hear of the loss of Thommie! My son, Jack, a tapper in the midwest,
had Thommie as a mentor and role model. Thommie spend time teaching Jack and called
Jack whenever he was scheduled to do a t.v. appearance with a "break a leg" "you'll be
Ellie and Barb, It has been many years since we have spoken and since Thommie and Barb babysat for my boys, but I have kept up with every bit of his success. As everyone else, I have swelled with pride at every turn. I share your loss and wish you love and the peace of knowing that he will never stop dancing and smiling that winning smile as God takes him in.
Much love to you all,
Janeen Davis (Riviera Beach, FL)
I was in Thommie's high school class and graduated with him in 1968. I was very shy in high school and Thommie on more than one ocassion was incredibly kind to me. I'm sorry I never told him what his words and actions meant to me. There were the typical 'mean' girls who gave me a pretty hard time. Thommie was my champion and it was such a surprise because he was so popular I expected him to go along with the cool crowd. But he was always his own man and always, always kind. I was so sorry to hear of his passing. His bright light will be truly missed.
Sibby Sullivan Falk
Since high school I have considered Thommie one of my dearest friends. I cannot tell you how sorry I am for your loss. He was a delight and an inspiration to all who knew him. My Love & Prayers to you......
Gail Gauthier (Tucson, AZ)
I remember when you came to watch our rehearsals for A CHORUS LINE Hawaii. I was playing Larry and was so thrilled even be in the same room as you. Then one day a couple of months later i was standing on 8th avenue waiting for my best friend. I was getting a bit restless and so I started doing the opening combination. On the street. I had just come out of the layout after "step kick kick leap kick touch" and you where there in front of me. I shouted out, "I love you!" and you where taken aback. I reminded you that you had visited our rehearsals and then you jokingly mimicked my doing the jazz in the street. We laughed together and you went on your way. I also had the pleasure of chatting with you during Donna Mckechnie's, "Held Over at Drama Bookstore" HILARIOUS! I was at the second performance. And One final time at The Actor's Fund performance of Whorehouse. Thank you for your unique contributions to The American Musical Theatre, and for chatting with me on the street. You are truly missed.
I just learned of Thommie's death.
I am shocked and saddened to hear of Thommie's death. When I was a freshman at The Boston Conservatory in 1970, Thommie befriended me and I will never forget his kindness!!! We used to talk and drink coffee and smoke cigarettes (or I did, anyway)....in the green room between dance classes. I have such warm memories of him!
Ellie Potts Barrett
I am a dance teacher from upstate New York and have known Thommie through Dance Caravan for many, many years. He was the sweetest, most genuine, humble and extremely talented choreographer I have ever met. He was always ready with a joke and an easy smile, making the class relaxed and enjoyable. I always used Thommie’s routines in my dance classes because of their classic Broadway style. I read about his passing in Dance Teacher magazine and was shocked and deeply saddened. My students performed one of his production tap routines in our recital this past June and received rave reviews! Ironically, our recital was held the week he passed away. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. The world has lost one of its greats!
Patricia Leigh Dwyer
What I'll always remember about Thommie
is his generosity.
Opening night, out of town with Patent Leather, Thommie and his assistant Ronna
presented every member of the cast with
a HUGE coffee table book of photos of the
works of Michaelangelo. This book must have
retailed for about $50, and he got one for
all 15 of us. But, Thommie was like that,
I graduated with Thommie from 8th grade at Sacred Heart School. Our paths really never crossed since then because we both went to different high schools. My mother used to take me to Irma Baker's dance recitals because I had a cousin that was in them, so I saw how talented Thommie was and I kind of knew he would be successful with dancing . Although I never saw him I followed his career and was very proud of him. Seeing the paper today and reading about his lifetime achivement award really hit home on how much he was loved by everyone and how much he loved everyone and how he is missed. I stop at the cemetary to visit him when I go and I hope he is in peace. He left us way too young.
John J D'Angelo