Feb. 17th, 1945
New York City, New York, USA
Zina Bethune's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles
Willie - Story #1
Lovely, lithe and light-haired Zina Bethune, noted ballet dancer, choreographer and teacher, also had a promising acting career during the late 1950s and 1960s. The native New Yorker was born on February 17, 1945, the daughter of William Charles Bethune (who died in 1950 when Zina was 5) and established actress Ivy Bethune (née Vigner) of "General Hospital" fame. Formally trained in dance from age 6, she was a student at George Balanchine's School of American Ballet, and performed with the New York City Ballet as a teen despite the fact she was diagnosed at various times with scoliosis, lymphedema and hip dysplasia.
As an adolescent she appeared in several daytime TV dramas, including a breakthrough part (1956-1958) as the first Robin Lang on the serial "The Guiding Light" (1952). Over time she joined the cast of other soaps, including a lengthy running part on "Love of Life" (1951) from 1965-1971 and, many years later, a recurring part on "Santa Barbara." Zina co-starred with Shirl Conway on the TV drama "The Nurses" (1962), and won touching reviews for her naive student nurse role. She also played the sensitive role of Amy in one of several TV adaptations of Louisa May Alcott's beloved Little Women (1958) (TV). As a young adult, she continued to demonstrate a formidable dramatic flair on such popular shows as "Route 66," "Naked City," "Gunsmoke," "Lancer," "The Invaders" "Emergency!" and "CHiPs".
Making her first movie appearance as one of the Roosevelt children in Sunrise at Campobello (1960) starring Ralph Bellamy and Greer Garson, she did not make as indelible a mark in film as promised, but did earn semi-cult notice for her moving streetwise role opposite Harvey Keitel in Martin Scorsese's autobiographical feature-length debut I Call First (1967) [aka Who's That Knocking at My Door?], a notable predecessor to his acclaimed star-maker Mean Streets (1973).
Zina graced many musicals as a singer/dancer and made her Broadway debut at age 11 playing Tessie in "The Most Happy Fella". A number of touring productions came her way in the form of "Sweet Charity", "Oklahoma!", "Damn Yankees!", "Carnival", "Carousel" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown". Non-musical offerings came in the form of "The Member of the Wedding," "Barefoot in the Park" and "The Owl and the Pussycat". In 1992 Zina returned to Broadway as a replacement in "Grand Hotel" in which she portrayed Russian ballerina Elizaveta Grushinskaya.
Ms. Bethune's ultimate passion and commitment, however, has remained in the art of dance...and on many levels. In her prime she was a highly regarded prima ballerina. Among her many credits were "Swan Lake," "Le Corsair," "Romeo and Juliet," "Black Swan," "Giselle," "Don Quixote" and "Sleeping Beauty," not to mention Balanchine's own "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux". A guest artist with The Royal Danish Ballet, Nevada Dance Theatre and San Francisco Ballet Theatre, she went on to form her own New York-based company in 1969 -- Zina Bethune and Company. Her career as a dance director and choreographer has encompassed over 50 plays, films, videos and ballets.
Throughout her life she has remained steadfast in her contribution to children with physical and mental disabilities. Helping them embrace the art of dance as a means of self-expression and therapy, she was prompted by her own physical ailments diagnosed while growing up. In addition to the Theatredance performance company she founded in 1980, she also organized Dance Outreach (now known as Infinite Dreams) in 1982, which continues to enroll disabled young children in dance-related activities throughout Southern California.
- For her continuing efforts with disabled children through dance she has been commended by the White House (Presidents Clinton, Reagan and Bush) and cited by Los Angeles Mayors Richard J. Riordan, Tom Bradley and Senator Dianne Feinstein.
- Both she and husband Sean are singing members of the Millennium Choir, a choral group that symbolizes peace in the world and the determination to enter the New Millennium with renewed hope for a better world and prayer to the Supreme Spirit. The choir is a multi-ethnic group of approximately 1,000 male and female singers.
- On May 17, 2006, USA Today, a newspaper that reaches millions worldwide, held its first annual USA Today Hollywood Hero Award gala at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. The first annual Hollywood Heroes Award this year was bestowed upon Ms. Bethune for her work with mentally and physically disabled children.
- Daughter of 'Ivy Bethune' (qv).
- In 1980 she founded the Bethune Theatredanse, a multimedia performance company which has been designated as the official resident company of the Los Angeles Theatre Center.
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