Joan Lindsay Sullivan, 91, of Paramus, (formerly River Edge), New Jersey, took her final bow on August 31, 2023. Born in Medford, MA in 1932 to parents Helen (Hayes) and Herbert Lindsay, she lit up the world with her presence, beauty, kindness and boundless talent.
Born to be in the spotlight, Joan’s days were adorned with the glamorous life of dance and theater. As a young performer, she first danced in fashionable nightclubs of Boston, before moving to NYC and joining the famous Radio City Music Hall Rockettes in 1951. Touring with Don Ameche in “Silk Stockings” in 1956, she continued to shine, earning respect in the theater community. Her footprints are etched in Broadway history with roles in “Shinbone Alley” alongside Eartha Kitt and Chita Rivera, “Ziegfeld Follies” with Carol Lawrence, “Goldilocks” with Elaine Stritch, “Li’l Abner” and “The Music Man” with Robert Preston. Among notable performances with stars such as Jimmy Durante, she worked with leading choreographers of the dance world including Agnes De Mille, Michael Kidd, Jacques D’Amboise, and Bob Fosse.
Joan’s presence wasn’t limited to the stage; her TV appearances included The Ed Sullivan Show, The Jackie Gleason Show with The June Taylor Dancers, Jack Paar, and the TODAY show. With a twinkle in her eyes she danced her way into homes in commercials for Mitch Miller and Lawrence Welk. A staunch supporter of the arts, Joan proudly held memberships in Actor’s Equity, AFTRA, and AGVA unions.
After captivating many a heart on stage and screen, including Broadway stagehand John Sullivan, her husband of 57 years, Joan embarked on a new journey, founding the Joan L. Sullivan School of Dance. For 47 years, she mentored, nurtured, and inspired budding dancers, instilling in them a passion for the art that mirrored her own. Her dance recitals in River Edge were legendary, always including a Sullivan family number to bring down the house. But for all her professional accolades, Joan’s love and pride shone brightest when speaking of the three daughters who followed in her dance steps, Lynn, Liane, and Susanne.
Beyond her illustrious career, Joan was a beacon of elegance. From her manicured nails to her perfectly coiffed hairstyle, she shared her radiant smile generously. Joan delighted in watching her students blossom and treasured her close-knit relationships with friends and family. She is now dancing in the stars, preceded in death by her husband, John Sullivan, brother Herbert Lindsay, and son-in-law Bob Egle. The legacy of her love and devotion remains in the hearts of her daughters Lynn Sullivan Bowers (John) of Kinnelon, NJ, Liane Egle of Columbus, OH, and Susanne Sullivan of Los Angeles, CA. Her love shines bright in her grandchildren Lauren, Dylan, Olivia, Tyler, Alex, Natalie, and Farren, who will forever remember their Nana’s incredible journey.
Joan’s life was a beautiful dance, choreographed with moments of sparkle, polish, and unconditional love. She will be dearly missed, but her legacy will forever inspire those who had the privilege of knowing her.
Family will receive friends on Friday, September 8th from 3-5 PM and 7-9 PM at the Beaugard-Mcknight Funeral Home, 869 Kinderkamack Rd, River Edge NJ 07661. Funeral mass will be held on Saturday, September 9th at 11 am at St. Peter the Apostle Church, 445 Fifth Avenue, River Edge, NJ 07661. Family and friends who wish to honor Joan with a donation may direct their gifts to the National Dance Institute in New York City which provides access to dance education to children with limited resources: https://nationaldance.org/support-us/. Joan’s family wishes to express their appreciation to the love and exceptional care provided to Joan by the entire staff of Brightview Senior Living.