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Emile Ardolino (May 9, 1943 – November 20, 1993) was an American film director, choreographer, and producer, best known for his films Dirty Dancing (1987) and Sister Act (1992).

Emile Ardolino
Born(1943-05-09)May 9, 1943
Queens, New York City, U.S.
DiedNovember 20, 1993(1993-11-20) (aged 50)
Cause of deathComplications from AIDS
Resting placeSt. John Cemetery (Queens), New York, U.S.
OccupationFilm director, choreographer
Notable work
Dirty Dancing
Sister Act

Life and careerEdit

Ardolino was born in Maspeth, a neighborhood of Queens, the son of Italian immigrants Ester (Pesiri) and Emilio Ardolino.[1] He began his career as an actor in off-Broadway productions, but soon moved to the production side of the business. In 1967, he founded Compton-Ardolino Films with Gardner Compton.[2] In the 1970s and 1980s, Ardolino worked for PBS. His profiles of dancers and choreographers for their Dance in America and Live from Lincoln Center series earned him 17 Emmy Award nominations. He won the Emmy three times.

Ardolino won an Academy Award for Best Documentary for the 1983 movie He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin'. He found commercial success with the 1987 sleeper hit Dirty Dancing, and went on to make several other mainstream films.

Ardolino, who was openly gay, died in California on November 20, 1993 of complications from AIDS. His last films, The Nutcracker (based on George Balanchine's New York City Ballet version), and the television production of Gypsy starring Bette Midler in the role created on Broadway by Ethel Merman, were released and shown posthumously. Ardolino is buried beside his parents at St. John Cemetery in New York.


  • 1969 Obie Award, for film for the Broadway production of Oh! Calcutta!
  • 17 Emmy Awards Nomination and 1 winning
  • 1983 Academy Award, Best Documentary Feature, He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin'

Filmography (partial)Edit


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Emile Ardolino, Director, Is Dead; Specialist in Dance Films Was 50". The New York Times (facsimile page image). 1993-11-22. p. B12 – via

External linksEdit