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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 16, 2006

'Nabors' director Tom Hansen

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Tom Hansen, a veteran director-choreographer who displayed militarylike precision in moving singers and dancers on and off stage in an annual Christmas show here, died April 27 at his home in Fallbrook, Calif. He was 80.

For more than three decades, he was a friend and colleague of Jim Nabors, for whom Hansen would come over to the Islands during the holidays to helm "A Merry Christmas With Friends and Nabors," a yuletide tradition at the downtown Hawai'i Theatre.

"This has been the loss of a dear, dear friend," Nabors said. "We worked together for 30 years, so it's like losing a member of the family. We'll still do our Christmas show in honor of Tom. He had planned to come again this year, since it was one of his favorite things to do."

Hansen died of prostate cancer.

"We have lost a great friend," said Burton White, general manager of the Hawai'i Theatre.

Hansen's career was launched in New York City. He performed in the original Broadway musical cast of "Kiss Me Kate" in 1948.

He was a veteran of prime-time television, performing as a singer, dancer and actor on a myriad of shows, including "Stop the Music" and "Your Hit Parade."

Hansen choreographed shows for some of the top names in show biz, including Dinah Shore ("The Dinah Shore Chevy Show"). He worked with troupers such as Bob Hope, Steve Allen, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Tim Conway, Wayne Newton, George Burns, John Travolta and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans in a round of TV specials.

Hansen earned Emmy nominations for his work on the "Fabulous Fordies Special" and "The Red Skelton Show"; on the latter, the Tom Hansen Dancers were a staple.

He also choreographed the John F. Kennedy inaugural galas in Washington, D.C.

Later in Hansen's career, he traveled to the Islands for Nabors' Polynesian revue at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, after TV's "Gomer Pyle, USMC" established residency in Waikiki.

The Nabors Christmas revue became Hansen's creative endeavor in the past decade. He would choreograph amateurs and professionals, presenting musical movement in the aisles, in the balcony and in the theater's left and right boxes.

The December visits here, with Currie Pederson, his life partner for 46 years, enabled him to catch up with show biz friends such as performer and set designer Wally White. "I've known Tom for 50 years," White said. "He was doing 'Hit Parade' in New York while I was a page at NBC; it was an absolute delight to work with him on the Nabors show because he knew exactly what he was doing and what he wanted."

Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.