Melvin L. Wein proved to be light on his feet—as a boxer and a tap dancer.
By Claire Martin
Denver Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Melvin L. Wein, who died in Evergreen on Friday at age 74, longed for the limelight throughout his life and finally found fame in his dotage—tap dancing as part of his son’s Frank Sinatra act.
As a boy growing up in West Denver, Wein played sports and boxed well enough to eventually win a Golden Gloves medal, but he also loved to tap dance.
As an adolescent, he polished his skills under the tutelage of local philanthropist Florence Kessler Ruston. Wein kept up his tapping, apart from his service in the Korean War.
During his career in sales, first with an upscale men’s shop and then with a print firm, Wein habitually checked the auditions listings in local papers.
To his dismay, opportunities for tap dancing men grew increasingly scarce as time passed. Still, Wein kept up his hopes, along with the skills he honed regularly on his basement’s tile floor, tapping along to old phonograph records.
Still, he scanned the notices. When a suburban community theater program help auditions for a production of “Annie,“ Wein snagged a part as Bert Healy, the radio show host who helps Daddy Warbucks and Little Orphan Annie.
In 2004, Wein appeared in “Not Again, Madame Burnstein," in a tap dancing part written for him by local playwrights Lucille “Toots” Siegal and Elaine Long. The show, which commemorated the 110th anniversary of the Colorado chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, brought down the house at Green Gables Country Club.
Despite his undernourished métier as a performer, Wein took enormous pride in his son, Danny, who established a vocation performing Frank Sinatra tribute shows.
Wein loved watching audiences swoon over his son’s uncannily accurate renditions. About three years ago, Mel Wein offered to tap dance as part of Danny Wein’s show.
Initially, Mel Wein also planned to sing.
“At first, we thought he’d do a number where he sang and he’d get into the dancing, but we decided that he couldn’t carry a tune in a 10 gallon bucket,” Danny Wein said fondly. “So instead, I’d do the vocal and he’d do the dancing at different venues.”
“The one we did together recently at the J.W. Marriott in Cherry Creek was ‘The Lady Is A Tramp.’ Everyone in the audience was in awe of this man, almost 75, tap dancing.”
The evening he died, Mel Wein performed his tap number during his son’s set at Evergreen’s Hiwan Country Club, earning a standing ovation. Afterward, he excused himself, saying he didn’t feel well, and went to the men’s room, where he suffered a fatal heart attack.
His tap dance shoes were buried with him.
Survivors include son Danny Wein of Denver; daughter Susan Wein Jones of Phoenix; sister Shirley Epstein of Denver; and tow grandchildren. He maintained his friendship with his former wife, Viola Wein of Denver, following their 1986 divorce.
Staff writer Clair Martin can be reached at 303-820-1477 or