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Emile Ardolino, ‘Sister Act,’ ‘Dirty Dancing’ Director

November 23, 1993

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Emile Ardolino, director of the films ″Dirty Dancing,″ ″Sister Act″ and the upcoming ″George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker,″ has died. He was 50.

Ardolino died at his home Saturday of AIDS complications, said Cindy Gilmore, a colleague and co-producer at Ardolino Productions.

Ardolino had just completed directing Bette Midler in a television adaptation of the musical ″Gypsy.″ It is scheduled for broadcast on CBS in December.

Known primarily as a maker of dance-oriented films, Ardolino helped launch the influential television documentary series ″Dance in America″ in 1975. Over the next decade, he directed 28 episodes of the series.

Ardolino won an Academy Award for the 1983 documentary ″He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’.″ He also won an Emmy for ″Choreography by Balanchine IV″ and a Directors Guild of America award for ″The Spellbound Child.″

″I like audiences to feel something when they come out,″ he said a few years ago. ″I don’t want them to come out numb. I really want them to feel and to think, mostly feel.″

His first feature film, 1987′s ″Dirty Dancing,″ was a huge box office success and made Ardolino a force in Hollywood. The film, which starred Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, was about a young girl and a street-smart dance instructor who meet at a Catskill hotel.

Ardolino went on to make ″Chances Are″ in 1988, ″Three Men and a Little Lady″ in 1990 and ″Sister Act,″ starring Whoopi Goldberg, in 1992. ″Sister Act″ was another huge success, prompting a sequel and making Miss Goldberg one of Hollywood’s most sought-after performers.

″The Nutcracker,″ co-starring Macaulay Culkin, is scheduled to open Wednesday.

Born in New York City, he founded Compton-Ardolino Films with Gardner Compton in 1967.

Ardolino is survived by his companion, Luis M. Rodriguez-Dilla of Los Angeles, and three sisters, Aurelia Janosek, Livia Meyer and Dorothy Boland.

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