Harold Lang

Harold Lang

Harold Lang (b. Daly City, CA, December 21, 1920; d. Chico, CA, July 26, 1985) was an American dancer, musical theatre singer, and actor.

Lang danced with the Kosloff Ballet before making his professional debut in 1938 with the San Francisco Ballet. He soon became a leading soloist and in 1941 joined the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, with which he danced until 1945. From 1943 he was simultaneously with Ballet Theatre (now become American Ballet Theatre) creating important roles in Jerome Robbins’s ballets Fancy Free and Interplay. He also took many roles in repertory, in ballets by Balanchine, Lichine, Massine, and Tudor.

Lang’s talents as a singer came to the fore in 1945, when he debuted on Broadway in a short-lived musical, Mr. Strauss Goes to Boston. The following year he appeared with Arthur Godfrey and Ray Bolger in a successful run of Three to Make Ready (1946). Look, Ma, I’m Dancin’! (1947) was a musical about a touring ballet company, taking full advantage of Lang’s many facets. His first major role, however, was as Bill Calhoun/Lucentio in the original production of Cole Porter’s Tony Award®-winning Kiss Me, Kate (1948), starring Alfred Drake. His success won him a lead in Make a Wish (1950–51) with Nanette Fabray and the role of Joey in the 1951–52 revival of Pal Joey. Harold Lang appeared in the revival of The Time of Your Life at the City Center in 1955, and on Broadway in Shangri-La (1956), the Ziegfeld Follies of 1957 with Beatrice Lillie, and I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1962) with Barbra Streisand. Lang also toured with the National Company as the Jester in Once Upon a Mattress.

Lang joined the faculty of California State University in Chico, CA, as professor of dance in 1970. Though he appeared in summer theatre in Falmouth, MA, in 1973 with Barbara Cook, Helen Gallagher and Julie Wilson in The Gershwin Years, for the most part he did not perform again. He died of pancreatic cancer in 1985.

Although Harold Lang appears in no feature films, the New York Public Library has archival records of his performances in Fancy Free and Interplay.

– LEC