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Zina Bethune

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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 Guiding Light. Over time, she joined the cast of other soaps, including a lengthy running part on Love of Life from 1965-1971 and, many years later, a recurring part on Santa Barbara. Zina co-starred with Shirl Conway on the TV drama The Doctors and the Nurses [best known as "The Nurses," the series was later entitled "The Doctors and the Nurses"], 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. 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 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 Who's That Knocking at My Door [aka Who's That Knocking at My Door?], a notable predecessor to his acclaimed star-maker Mean Streets.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.  See full bio on IMDb »

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