My One Degree of Separation from Stephen Sondheim

David Holliday

When I was a wee twink, I was in a production of “Camelot” starring Broadway veteran David Holliday as King Arthur. Every night, 8 shows a week for two months, I got to wear tights on stage as a paige to King Arthur, and best of all, at the climax of the show, I had the great honor of bringing King Arthur his famed sword Excalibur.

Now it might have been how great my 18 year old behind looked in those tights, or maybe not, but one night David asked me to dinner at his place. Like most actors, he was eager to share his Broadway bona fides.

His most famous role was probably opposite Katharine Hepburn in the Lerner and Lowe musical “Coco”, followed by “Sail Away” with Elaine Stritch. (You can hear his lovely voice on those cast albums.) He was also in Man of La Mancha on Broadway, and he played the King in a TV movie of “Sleeping Beauty” starring Morgan Fairchild (he played a lot of Kings). And he was the voice of Virgil Tracy in the first season of the cult British show “Thunderbirds”!

David’s Virgil Tracy from “Thunderbirds

But David got his start with Stephen Sondheim, who cast him as a Jet in the original production of “West Side Story” and as the understudy for Tony. Later on, he got to play Tony in the London production of WSS with Chita Rivera and again for the 1966 London revival.

He was a pal of Elaine Stritch and David loved the story of how one day, out of the blue, Judy Garland called him up to invite him to a birthday party she was throwing for Stritch. He was also besties with Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise.

He would send me Christmas cards every year for awhile (those tights were magic). But sadly he died in 1999 from cancer.

As Don Quixote

Anyway, here’s the cast album of West Side Story with David Holliday as Tony. He starts singing “Something’s Coming’” at the 4:08 mark.

David Holliday from “Coco”
A video tribute for David Holliday with his gorgeous voice singing “Dommage Dommage”

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