Don was a very expressive entertainer and person. He had many expressions, all of which conveyed emotion and his great passion for life. Although not confirmed, this photo shows Don during his days as a Broadway performer and comes from his personal portfolio. I was lucky enough to obtain access to these photos by permission of his family friend, David Osterhoudt.
Don was many things to many people in his 78 years of life. Born in Carey Idaho, on May 20, 1927, he was the son of Nettie Gifford Farnworth and Henry Farnworth. He was a brother to Allen, who is since deceased, and is survived by his other brother Farrin of Emmett Idaho and sister Lois Dennis of Provo Utah. Growing up as a boy, Don was always thinking about traveling and doing big things with his life and his passions; dance and theater. Don’s parents had a love for dancing and would bring the children on weekends to church dances where Don, his sister and brothers all developed their own love of dancing. Although he had been exposed to theater and dance in his small Idaho town, Don knew he would someday have to travel to the big city to pursue his dreams. Don contracted polio while he was young and eventually overcame the paralyzing disease. Don was a frequent sufferer of ear infections as a child eventually resulting in deafness in one ear. Don entered the military in 1943 at the age of 18. While in the Army, he received an honorable discharge due to his deafness and returned to Idaho where he studied dance at the Dori Moon Dance Studio in Boise Idaho. With Don’s abilities, his teacher’s told him they couldn’t teach him much more so he soon left Idaho for NYC to pursue his dream of becoming a professional dancer. With his talent and good looks, he quickly became well known in the circles of dance, ballet and theater. Don performed on Broadway in the original “Bye Bye Birdie” with the likes of Chita Rivera and Dick VanDyke and other original cast members. He danced and acted in a number of other shows and productions like “Shinbone Alley”, further developing his talents and also his own style and eventually his own dance and teaching techniques which he moved on to teach to a large number of students and industry greats in his own NYC dance school and rightfully earned the title of “Ballet Master”. Don went on to choreograph and contribute to a number of productions and was well respected and loved in many communities. Don settled in West Milford, NJ and had traveled throughout Europe, eventually buying a small place in Athens, Greece in his later years where he would vacation. He taught dance in Greece, worked on clients and friends and developed his own style and techniques in the specialties of Shiatsu and Reiki for which he became certified as a “Reiki Master”. Don had an intense intuition for the body and the human form. He treated and administered care to a number of clients, patients and friends in his lifetime. He was a natural healer and a generous friend with a big heart.
Don was also a survivor. He suffered from a fall in his later years and injured his hip resulting in the shortening of one leg and a noticeable limp. Don, eventually had a hip replacement, got rid of his shoe lift, and kept on keepin’ on. At 66, Don suffered a serious stroke while in Greece. Don was finally well enough to come home and with the help of his friends he made a full recovery utilizing the techniques he developed to help himself with rehabilitation. Despite life’s handicaps, he continued his work unhindered and as strong as ever. He was a very strong man in body and mind. The “Farnworth Techniques” he created are still being taught today by several of his protégées. Despite the challenges Don faced, he always had a positive outlook, never complaining about his conditions, especially towards the end; always independent, with a great sense of humor and always optimistic about tomorrow. Don was an inspiration, a teacher and most of all; Don was a great friend to many individuals. Don, we all love you very much and will miss you dearly, and until we see you again, we will keep your memory and loving, guiding friendship and teachings close to our hearts.
DONALD J. FARNWORTH MAY 20, 1927 – FEBRUARY 20, 2006
One of many photos of Don in his early years dancing and performing. Don began his career as a ballet dancer and performer. He was a natural entertainer. Only later in his life would he open the renowned Farnworth-Hauer Dance Studio in NYC and began his next phase in life as teacher and "Ballet Master". Don would later use these life experiences and many more to develop the "Farnworth Technique" which incorporated dance, and healing which he used to train and heal many students and performers in the arts throughout the USA and Europe.