Zina Bethune

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Zina Bethune
Bethune in 1968
Zina Bianca Bethune

(1945-02-17)February 17, 1945
Staten Island, New York City, U.S.
DiedFebruary 12, 2012(2012-02-12) (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Actor, ballet dancer, choreographer and teacher
Years active1951–2006
Known forTheater Bethune
Sean Feeley
(m. 1970)
ParentIvy Bethune (mother)

Zina Bianca Bethune (February 17, 1945[1] – February 12, 2012) was an American actress, dancer, and choreographer. She was the daughter of actress Ivy Bethune.

Early years[edit]

Bethune was born on Staten Island, the daughter of Ivy (née Vigder), a Russian-born (Sevastopol, present-day Ukraine) actress who started in the Superman radio series, and later became known for playing "Miss Tuttle" on Father Murphy and "Abigail" on General Hospital.[2]


Theater and dance[edit]

Bethune began her formal ballet training aged six at George Balanchine's School of American Ballet.[3]

By age 14 she was dancing with the New York City Ballet as Clara in the 1955 Balanchine production of The Nutcracker. Bethune's first professional acting role was at age six, with a small part in the off-Broadway play Monday's Heroes, produced by Stella Holt at the Greenwich Mews Theater.[1]


As a child performer, Bethune appeared in the original cast of The Most Happy Fella as well as several American daytime television dramas,[4] including a stint as the first "Robin Lang" on The Guiding Light from May 1956 to April 1958. Bethune played President Franklin D. Roosevelt's daughter in Sunrise at Campobello in 1960.[1]

Newspaper columnist Dick Kleiner described Bethune's performance in a 1958 television production as a "shatteringly beautiful portrayal of Tennessee Williams' young heroine in This Property Is Condemned."[5]

In October 1958, she portrayed Amy March in the CBS musical adaptation of Little Women.[6] She portrayed nurse Gail Lucas on The Nurses (1962–65),[7] and appeared in other series, including Kraft Television Theatre (with Martin Huston in the series finale), Route 66, The Judy Garland Show, Pantomime Quiz, Hollywood Squares, Young Dr. Malone, Dr. Kildare, Gunsmoke, The Invaders, and Emergency![citation needed]


Bethune starred as "The Girl" alongside Harvey Keitel in Martin Scorsese's first feature film, Who's That Knocking at My Door.[8]

Other work[edit]

Throughout her life, Bethune worked with disabled students. She herself was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11, and hip dysplasia.[9]

Bethune founded Bethune Theatredanse (now called Theatre Bethune) in 1981, a nonprofit dance and drama company that has toured internationally and performed at the White House.[1]

She founded Dance Outreach, now known as Infinite Dreams, in 1980, which, as of 2012, enrolls about 8,000 disabled children in dance-related activities throughout Southern California.[1]


On February 12, 2012, five days before her 67th birthday, Bethune was killed in an apparent hit and run crash while she was trying to help an injured opossum in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.[1]

Essential Filmography[edit]

1960 Sunrise at Campobello Anna Roosevelt
1967 Who's That Knocking at My Door Girl
1974 Planet of the Apes Arn TV series, S1 E5, "The Legacy"
1977 CHiPs Mother TV series, S1 E12, "Aweigh We Go"
1985 Walking the Edge Mrs. Johnson
1988 The Boost Dance Teacher / Choreographer


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hevesi, Dennis (February 18, 2012). "Zina Bethune Dies at 66; Actress, Dancer and Choreographer". The New York Times. p. A24.
  2. ^ Lentz, Harris M. (2020). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2019. "Bethune, Ivy". McFarland. p. 36. ISBN 9781476640594.
  3. ^ Online biography at Dance Teacher Magazine website Archived December 17, 2004, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Zina Bethune dies in hit-and-run at 66". Variety. February 15, 2012.
  5. ^ Kleiner, Dick (October 7, 1958). "Actress Wants to Dance". Shamokin News-Dispatch. Shamokin, PA. p. 4. Retrieved August 8, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  6. ^ Ellenberger, Allan R. (2000). "Television". Margaret O'Brien: A Career Chronicle and Biography. McFarland & Company. p. 205. ISBN 0-7864-2155-X. Retrieved November 26, 2016 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7, pg. 776.
  8. ^ Canby, Vincent (September 9, 1969). "A First Feature: Scorsese's 'Who's That Knocking at My Door'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2015-12-09.
  9. ^ Levine, Bettijane (1999-11-16). "Reaching New Heights". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020-10-25.

External links[edit]