HAPPY 86th BIRTHDAY

Today we send happy 86th birthday wishes to Hollywood star Tab Hunter!  

A product of Hollywood’s Golden Era, Tab Hunter became Hollywood’s “golden boy” and starred in over 40 feature films. One of Hunter’s first films for Warner Bros was The Sea Chase (1955), supporting John Wayne and Lana Turner. Oblivious to his sexuality, Hunter remained the all-American boy-next-door who guys envied and girls desired during the 1950s and 1960s. Being so popular that when he recorded a song called “Young Love”  it knocked Elvis Presley off the top of the charts and prompted the creation of Warner Records today known as Warner Music Group, as well as the purchase, by Jack Warner, of a popular baseball musical from Broadway for Hunter to star in. “Warner, as a gift, bought Damn Yankees! for me,” he notes in his biography Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, adding how much he enjoyed working with his costars, the assistant director Stanley Donen and choreographer Bob Fosse.

Joe Hardy a lovestruck baseball player portrayed by Tab Hunter on screen in 1958 for the Warner Bros movie musical Damn Yankees opposite leading lady Gwen Verdon as Lola the Devil’s seductress assistant. Lola was is the Tony Award winning character Verdon originated on Broadway with future husband and choreographer Bob Fosse.

Below is Tab Hunter’s heartfelt recollection of first seeing Verdon perform live with Jack Cole’s dance troupe in a Los Angeles nightclub and then working with Gwen filming Damn Yankees.

Thoughts of Gwen…

I first laid eyes on Gwen at Ciro’s night club on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. She had become the talk of the town as the lead dancer with the very exciting Jack Cole Dancers. I was hypnotized by her red hair whirling above those beautiful, long legs that seemed to start at her neck and go on forever. I have never forgotten that evening. At the time I was still in high school with no aspirations to be an actor.

A few years later I was under contract to Continue reading

This is our “Once-A-Year Day!”—Happy Fourth of July! The Pajama Game 1957

Happy Fourth of July!  Since many Americans will celebrate this holiday with a picnic in the park, here’s a fun clip of Bob Fosse’s “Once-A-Year Day” from the 1957 film version of “The Pajama Game.”

In a Dance Magazine article (1957), Carol Haney described the “Once-A-Year Day” choreography—both the choreography of the movement and of the camera: “For a scene like the big “Once-A-Year Day” number—the picnic dance which we did on location in a park—Bob Fosse re-choreographed his original dance completely to involve more people and all the space you can cover with a camera. And Stanley Donen, who knows about dance, photographed it in wonderful travelling shots that captured all of the dynamism of the movements and at the same time provided enough air around the performers to make their movements significant. You see, you just can’t set up your camera and photograph a dance…You have to know just where to place it, which angle will make it exciting and alive.”

HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY BOB FOSSE!

Celebrate with us the 90th birthday of an American dance theatre and film performance icon Robert Louis “Bob” Fosse born June 23, 1927.

Pictured above is a never before seen candid photograph from the Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC archives featuring Bob Fosse backstage in the acclaimed 1963 musical Pal Joey dressing room at City Center wearing terrycloth robe. Having verso glue residue and ink handwritten annotation reading “Pal Joey” measuring 7 1/2 x 8 inches overall. 

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67 years ago…Verdon and Fosse made strikingly similar Broadway debuts

Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse made strikingly similar Broadway debuts.  Gwen performed in and assisted Jack Cole on ALIVE AND KICKING, a Follies-style musical revue with comedic sketches, songs, and production numbers.  The show opened on January 17th, 1950—just three days before Bob Fosse’s Broadway debut.  He performed his “Fosse and Niles” act with his first wife, Mary Ann Niles, in DANCE ME A SONG (also a musical song-and-dance revue) which opened January 20th, 1950.

ALIVE AND KICKING closed after a mere 46 performances and DANCE ME A SONG closed after only 35.  Nevertheless, the musicals—which played at theaters only six blocks away from each other—helped to launch the bright and legendary Broadway careers of Verdon and Fosse.

L to R: Bob Scheerer, Cliff Ferre, and Bob Fosse in the Broadway show, DANCE ME A SONG, 1950.

Jack Cole and Gwen Verdon dancing “Dove’s Blues” in the Broadway show, ALIVE AND KICKING, 1950.

“On the Riviera” Gwen Verdon 1951

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Gwen Verdon in solo Stage dance performance On the Riviera, 1951

On the Riviera, 1951 20th Century Fox, directed by Walter Lang

Please join Verdon Fosse Legacy Wednesday, January 20, 7pm at the All That Jack (Cole) MOMA film series for a screening of On the Riviera with introduction by Nicole Fosse.

On the Riviera, 1951 starring Danny Kaye, Gene Tierney, Corinne Calvet, and Gwen Verdon. 89 min.

Though unbilled in the main credits, Cole protégée Gwen Verdon features prominently in this dance-rich Fox Technicolor movie, as she leads nominal star Danny Kaye on a world-dance tour that includes Cole’s signature version of Hindu jazz in “Rhythm of a New Romance.” Cole’s dark side surfaces in the creepy, pseudo-whimsical “Popo the Puppet.” As Busby Berkeley had done 20 years earlier, Cole completely commandeers the mise en scène from the mediocre director of record for an amazing finale, aptly titled “Happy Ending.”

Version 2Gwen Verdon & Danny Kaye in On the Riviera, 1951

All That Jack (Cole) MOMA Film series

January 20–February 4, 2016

The choreographer Jack Cole (American, 1911–1974) stands Continue reading

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Gwen Verdon! “Glamorous Redhead” 1959

Today celebrate with us the birthday of one of America’s brightest stage and screen stars, Gwenyth Evelyn Verdon born January 13, 1925.

Age 34 “Glamorous Redhead Gwen Verdon” Magazine Cover 

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“The Theatre, Magazine of Drama, Comedy, Music”

from “January, 1959″ sold for “25 cents”

“Broadway’s Complicated Redhead Gwen Verdon dances like a goddess lives like a recluse and is the sole support of the town’s most popular musical.” Continue reading

Gwen Verdon “New Girl In Town” broadside, 1957

“Dances and Musical Numbers Staged by Bob Fosse”
NewGirlInTownDetail image of original theater broadside or handout flyer for the 1957 Broadway production New Girl in Town presenting Gwen Verdon and Thelma Ritter with top billing.  New Girl in Town was a new musical produced by Harold Prince located at the “Shubert Theatre” with book by George Abbot having praised “Dances and Musical Numbers Staged by Bob Fosse.” Continue reading

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Gwen Verdon! “The Garden of Eden” 1954

Today celebrate with us the birthday of one of America’s brightest stars, Gwen Verdon born January 13, 1925.

Age 28 Gwen Verdon as Claudine in Can Can

Pictured in full costume in Gwen Verdon during her Tony award winning "Can Can" Broadway musical role as Eve in the "Garden of Eden" ballet, music and lyrics by Cole Porter with choreography by Michael Kidd.Pictured in full Eve costume is Gwen Verdon during her notorious Act One Tony Award winning Can Can Broadway performance as saucy laundress Claudine in “The Garden of Eden” ballet, music and lyrics by Cole Porter with choreography by Michael Kidd. Continue reading

“Everything old is new again!” – Dancers revive Fosse piece that hasn’t been seen in 56 years

Last week a group of Fosse students reconstructed “Streets of Laredo,” a five-part, eight-minute comedic ballet satirizing the rough, yet romantic American West: cowboys, saloon girls, hoedowns, bar fights, and, of course, a happy ending where the good guy comes out on top (quite the contrast to many of Fosse’s later more realistic works such as Sweet Charity and “All That Jazz”). Continue reading