Ann Reinking, Tony-Winning 'Chicago' and 'All That Jazz' Star, Dies at 71

Ann Reinking
Walter McBride/Getty Images

Ann Reinking

The dancer and choreographer also starred onstage in 'A Chorus Line' and onscreen in 'Annie' and 'Micki + Maude.'

Ann Reinking, the Tony-winning choreographer and star of stage and screen who appeared in ChicagoAnnie and All That Jazz, has died. She was 71.

Her manager, Lee Gross, told the Associated Press that she died Saturday while seeing family in Seattle.

"The lights on Broadway are forever more dim this morning and there is one less star in the sky," dancer and choreographer Christopher Dean, who teaches Reinking's great niece, said in a Facebook post on Monday. "The good news is that heaven has the very best choreographer on earth now. Thank you Ann for having the most profound impact on my career. We are even more blessed by the entire Reinking family who have welcomed us in and been a huge part of our lives this past year. The world will miss Ann so much!! The angels are all singing 'We got Annie!!'"

Born in Seattle and trained as a ballet dancer, Reinking made her Broadway debut in 1969 in Cabaret after moving to New York just a few years earlier. She caught the attention of choreographer and director Bob Fosse, who would become her mentor as well as a romantic partner, while appearing as a chorus performer in 1972's Pippin.

She earned her first Tony nomination as Joan of Arc in 1975's Goodtime Charley and soon landed major roles, replacing Donna McKechnie as Cassie in A Chorus Line (1976) and Gwen Verdon as Roxie Hart in Chicago (1977). She earned her second Tony nom in 1978 for Fosse's Dancin'.

"I'm beyond words to hear of the sudden and untimely passing of my dear friend Ann Reinking. The world has lost such a beautiful soul and talent," Broadway legend Chita Rivera said in a statement. "We met during the original Chicago and remained close friends to this day. Just the other day I received my annual holiday poinsettia from her! I loved sharing the stage with her whenever we could. Her spirit and razzle-dazzle will be with me forever."

Reinking made her film debut in Fosse's semi-autobiographical All That Jazz, playing a version of herself called Kate Jagger, in 1979. She returned to the silver screen as secretary Grace Farrell in 1982's Annie and also played the eponymous Micki Salinger in 1984's Micki + Maude. In 2019's FX television drama Fosse/Verdon, Reinking was portrayed by Margaret Qualley.

She began choreographing in the late '80s and worked on the 1996 revival of Chicago as both a star and choreographer, the latter work landing her her first Tony. Reinking additionally co-created, co-directed and co-choreographed 1999's Fosse, which landed her a third Tony nom, for direction.

''You have to have tunnel vision as a dancer to get to where you're going,'' she told The New York Times in 2002, by which time she was choreographing and directing. ''But once you get there, you have to save yourself by spreading your horizons. It's the paradox of this profession. The very thing that makes you very good will destroy you."