He took dance classes at an early age. By the time he graduated from high school, his dance instructor had encouraged his mother to let him find work as a dancer in New York.
He got a job as an understudy in the original production of West Side Story, which opened in 1957. He later played small parts in the musical and its 1960 revival before going on tour with it.
He began his career as a choreographer when he started working with Brooks on The Producers in 1968, creating the campy movie collaborations with Brooks on the “Springtime for Hitler” goose-steppers-and-showgirls extravaganza in “The Producers” and the “Puttin’ On the Ritz” tap dance in “Young Frankenstein”.
He met Brooks through a friend, lyricist Martin Charnin.
After working in films, he returned to Broadway. He also did choreography for various television specials and shows.
Read more about Eddystone native Alan Johnson and his work with Mel Brooks in The New York Times by clicking here.
Editor’s Note: This post first appeared July 31, 2018.