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A Chorus Line thespian Ronald Dennis dies, age 78, after prolonged illness

Retired Broadway veteran Ronald Dennis Watson died, age 78, on Saturday at 9:20pm after a prolonged illness while surrounded by family and friends.

‘We would like to thank the many doctors and nurses who have cared for him over the years,’ his representatives told Broadway World last Sunday.

‘But especially the entire staff at [Canyon Trails Assisted Living and Memory Care in Canoga Park, CA] who have given him such personal care over the past year.’

RIP: Retired Broadway veteran Ronald Dennis Watson died, age 78, on Saturday at 9:20pm after a prolonged illness while surrounded by family and friends (pictured in 2021)

The Ohio-born, LA-based actor made his Broadway debut in 1967 as a dancer in Hello, Dolly! starring Pearl Bailey before originating the role of Richie ‘Gimme the Ball’ Walters in A Chorus Line in 1975.

Ronald played the aspiring kindergarten teacher-turned-dancer in the off-Broadway production at The Public Theater, the Broadway production at the Shubert Theatre, the US tour, and he received a special Theatre World award in 1976.

The Twitter account for the late EGOT champ Marvin Hamlisch, who composed the music for A Chorus Line, reacted to the news on Monday.

‘We are saddened to hear about the passing of Ronald Dennis, the original Ritchie in A Chorus Line,’ Hamlisch’s rep tweeted.

The Ohio-born, LA-based actor made his Broadway debut in 1967 as a dancer in Hello, Dolly! starring Pearl Bailey before originating the role of Richie 'Gimme the Ball' Walters in A Chorus Line in 1975 (pictured)

The Ohio-born, LA-based actor made his Broadway debut in 1967 as a dancer in Hello, Dolly! starring Pearl Bailey before originating the role of Richie ‘Gimme the Ball’ Walters in A Chorus Line in 1975 (pictured)

Ronald played the aspiring kindergarten teacher-turned-dancer in the off-Broadway production at The Public Theater, the Broadway production at the Shubert Theatre, the US tour, and he received a special Theatre World award in 1976

Ronald played the aspiring kindergarten teacher-turned-dancer in the off-Broadway production at The Public Theater, the Broadway production at the Shubert Theatre, the US tour, and he received a special Theatre World award in 1976

'We are saddened to hear': The Twitter account for the late EGOT champ Marvin Hamlisch, who composed the music for A Chorus Line, reacted to the news on Monday

‘We are saddened to hear’: The Twitter account for the late EGOT champ Marvin Hamlisch, who composed the music for A Chorus Line, reacted to the news on Monday

‘We’ll be high kicking and belting “Gimme That Ball” today in his honor.’

At 5ft2in, Dennis ‘was [once] told that I was too short and too dark-skinned to work on Broadway. I broke that darkness ceiling.’

The diminutive triple threat – who doted on his pets and orchid plants – also performed in productions of Pippin, Dancin’, La Cage Aux Follies, Showboat, Don’t Bother me I Can’t Cope, and My One and Only.

In addition, Ronald did some TV work in the seventies, guest starring in episodes of NBC’s Chico and the Man, ABC’s Baretta, and ABC’s Welcome Back, Kotter.

5ft2in triple threat: Dennis also performed in productions of Pippin (pictured), Dancin', La Cage Aux Follies, Showboat, Don't Bother me I Can't Cope, and My One and Only

5ft2in triple threat: Dennis also performed in productions of Pippin (pictured), Dancin’, La Cage Aux Follies, Showboat, Don’t Bother me I Can’t Cope, and My One and Only

Good genes: The Don't Grab The Gown Til You See the Gurney writer-star - whose mother mother Lillian Watson (R, pictured in 2019) passed away, age 98, in 2020 - is survived by his brother George, nieces and nephews, and chosen family

Good genes: The Don’t Grab The Gown Til You See the Gurney writer-star – whose mother mother Lillian Watson (R, pictured in 2019) passed away, age 98, in 2020 – is survived by his brother George, nieces and nephews, and chosen family

He served on the advisory council: Ronald - who was diagnosed with HIV in 1984 - would like any remembrances donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

He served on the advisory council: Ronald – who was diagnosed with HIV in 1984 – would like any remembrances donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

Dennis – whose mother mother Lillian Watson passed away, age 98, in 2020 – is survived by his brother George, nieces and nephews, and chosen family.

The Don’t Grab The Gown Til You See the Gurney writer-star – who was diagnosed with HIV in 1984 – would like any remembrances donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS since he served on the advisory council.

Ronald was also the senior advisor for the Black Men’s HIV Medication Adherence Board at APLA/Project Rise.

Dennis’ celebrations of life will take place in LA and New York City and will be announced next year.



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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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