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June Taylor, 86; Choreographer for Gleason TV Show

May 18, 2004|From Associated Press

MIAMI BEACH — June Taylor, the Emmy-winning choreographer for Jackie Gleason's television variety show and later the Miami Dolphins cheerleading squad, died Monday. She was 86.

Taylor died at the Miami Heart Institute. A cause of death was not immediately announced.

She founded the June Taylor Dancers in 1942 and made her television debut in 1948 on "The Toast of the Town," starring Ed Sullivan. Two years later, she joined Gleason on "Cavalcade of Stars," winning an Emmy for her choreography in 1954.

"Her choreography complemented Jackie's musical shows and especially his own musical talents," her nephew, Craig Horwich, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for its Tuesday editions.

Gleason's show and the entourage that included Taylor helped give Miami Beach six years of showbiz glamour that is credited by some as helping to change the face of South Florida.

Gleason brought his show from New York to Miami Beach before the start of the 1964-65 season.

It remained in Miami Beach for the rest of its run, until September 1970, first as "Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine," and later as simply "The Jackie Gleason Show."

Taylor began working with what was then known as the Dolphin Starbrites in 1978, remaining with the group until 1990. Her squad was well-known for Broadway-style routines executed on a stage set up in an end zone of the Orange Bowl during Miami's home football games and accompanied by a 22-piece brass band.

Taylor had no children. Her husband, Sol Lerner, a prominent theatrical lawyer, died in 1986. They were married 42 years. Taylor's sister, Marilyn, was Gleason's third and final wife.

Services are scheduled for Wednesday in North Miami Beach, according to officials at the Lithgow Funeral Home.

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