ROLAND DUPREE, DANCER, ACTOR, CHOREOGRAPHER, AND DISNEY”S “PETER PAN,” DIES AT 89.
Roland Dupree, the dancer, choreographer, actor, dance educator, and Live-Action Model for Disney’s animated Peter Pan, who was widely known for innovating a style of dance known as “West Coast Jazz,” and for his influential West Hollywood dance studio, Dupree Dance Academy, which for over two decades trained many of todays prominent choreographers and high profile dancers, actors, and other performers, passed away of natural causes after a brief illness on Sunday, June 21st, 2015, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was 89 years old.
Roland is survived by Judy Larson, his adopted sister, Cory Lindquist, his nephew, Joy Holland Cesca, his niece, and Bob Cesca, his nephew-in-law, and by many beloved close friends in L.A., as well as in New Mexico, and Hawaii, where he spent his retirement years and created a new life of social outreach and senior service. In New Mexico, Roland spent several years organizing, choreographing, and performing for seniors in retirement, care, and hospital facilities with his Albuquerque dance troop, the Sophisticated Ladies. In Kona, Hawaii, where he lived the last several years of his life, Roland stayed active in many clubs and social circles, including an orchid club and The Kailua Kona Senior club, which also performed dance on occasion. Roland inspired intense loyalty and friendships wherever he lived or worked, and was a dependable friend, elegant host, and fun-loving person. Roland’s sense of humor was witty and dry, and could be counted on for a laugh or smile anytime a loved one, or even a stranger needed one. Described by most who knew him as a “class act,” Roland built a large network of students, colleagues and friends who loved him intensely and credited his support and friendship for many landmark careers and achievements. Roland truly loved his adopted hometown and lived a very happy, independent life with his treasured dogs, Molly and Tiger all the way up to his passing.
Roland Dupree, an only child, was born, Roland Furtado on September 20, 1925 to father, Antone Furtado of Portuguese descent, and Mother Theresa Dupuis, of French Canadian descent in Fall River, Massachusetts, by a midwife. Roland’s first language was actually French, but he learned English and became an all-American talent and the family bread-winner at a very young age. After taking dance classes in his small town, and starting to stand out in local performances and venues, his family picked up and moved to Hollywood. There he quickly became a part of the “studio system” and was given contracts (and a new stage name, to sound like his mother’s maiden name) with Universal Studios and MGM.
Turner Classic Movies enthusiasts and dance fans will remember Roland for his roles in dozens of Hollywood feature films credited variously as actor, dancer, choreographer and assistant director.
(http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/person/54573|134277/Roland-Dupree/filmography-with-synopsis.html). Starring in roles opposite Shirley Temple, or standing out in featured roles in films with Jimmy Stewart, Donald O’Connor, Ann Miller, Dorothy Lamour, Bing Crosby and many others, Roland built a reputation as a professional with rare talent, particularly in tap dance. Roland was known by industry colleagues as a “dancer’s dancer,” with delicate, lightening fast, and rich-sounding taps which were on many occasions used as “stunt taps” in film audio for higher profile actors and dancers with less impressive tap technique.
Always innovating in style, and dance education and choreography, Roland became a teacher and choreographer for many other dancers themselves known for their outstanding technique, including dancer Juliette Prowse, ice skater and dancer Peggy Fleming, and 80’s dance-craze Flashdance dance double, Marine Jahan. Roland’s passion for teaching and choreography led him to develop a technique-driven national dance convention, Dupree Dance Expo (Now “Dupree Dance” http://www.dupreedance.com/), and brought him to a long and fruitful career of choreography and direction for television, stage, and screen. Some of his favorite choreography projects included the Rosemary Clooney Show, and staging his own trio for his Vegas stage show, The Dupree Trio. His greatest joy was teaching, however, and he maintained a sprightly and lively approach to his craft well into his 80’s. As the Live Action Model for Disney’s animated feature, Peter Pan, Roland found a role that he would be compared to over and over in his life: he was perpetually young at heart and never lost his wonder for life. He will be deeply missed.
Services will be held for Roland at the Daniels Family Funeral Home, Sara Road Chapel, 4310 Sara Road SE, Rio Rancho, NM 87124, July 4th , 2015, at 11:00am celebrating his life and a truly iconic American Classic and true gentleman.
The family welcomes you to leave reflections and wishes on the Daniel’s Family Funeral Services website for him: http://www.danielsfuneral.com/obituaries/.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Watermelon Mountain Ranch pet rescue organization in Roland Dupree’s memory. Roland loved animals and rescued several of his animals from this organization:
Watermelon Mountain Ranch
1512 Deborah Rd SE Ste 203
Rio Rancho NM 87124