'West Side Story' Star Don McKay Dies at 93

West Side Story actor Don McKay, who also appeared alongside Judy Garland in 1954's A Star Is Born, has reportedly died at the age of 93.

McKay was well known as an actor, singer and dancer, with his role as Tony in the original long-running Tokyo, Japan and London, England productions of West Side Story being his most notable performance.

Additionally, McKay also appeared in a 1963 production of Leonard Bernstein's On the Town in London.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, McKay passed away on Wednesday, Dec. 26, in Manhattan, New York City, New York. Notably, Playbill cited McKay's death as being on Thursday, Dec. 27, so there is some inconsistency with those reports.

McKay was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia on Jan. 28, 1925. When he grew up he joined the Army, serving as a soldier in the 7th Infantry Regiment throughout Germany and Italy.

He then attended a French art school and eventually returned to America in 1945.

Having began his showbusiness career as a singer working in nightclubs, as well as a member of The Martins — the vocal group led by composer-lyricist Hugh Martin — McKay later went on to appear in the Broadway chorus of Make a Wish.

Speaking about his time as a Tony in West Side Story, McKay said in a 1969 interview, "Some kids saw the show 60 times. I met the Queen Mother, but I was too young to be very much impressed."

He would later go on to appear in the revival of West Side Story in Tokyo in 1964.

Interestingly, McKay was interviewed by documentary filmmakers who were doing a project on the original West Side Story. He showed then scrapbooks of old photos and souvenirs he had kept from his days in the show, and even shared some very interesting details about the early versions of the story.


In the play/film, Tony is killed at the end after being shot by Chino, but according to an original early-version script that McKay had, Tony was not going to be killed when Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim initially crafted the story.

McKay is reportedly survived by his longtime partner, Jessie Dunston, and his sister. At this time, his family does not appear to have made a statement on his passing.