A caricature is worth a thousand words

American caricaturist, Al Hirschfeld, created a number of iconic black-and-white cartoons of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon chronicling their Broadway careers.  Hirschfeld would publish his portraits of dancers, singers, and actors prior to a new Broadway show’s opening night.  Below are several caricatures from The Al Hirschfeld Foundation.

DAMN YANKEES 1955

NEW GIRL IN TOWN 1957

REDHEAD 1959

SWEET CHARITY 1966

CHICAGO 1975

Bob Fosse 1977

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.

Happy Birthday, Bob Fosse!

scan0458Robert Louis Fosse was born on this day (June 23rd), 1927. Growing up in Chicago, young Bob Fosse was obsessed with Fred Astaire, the king of Hollywood’s Golden Age of movie musicals. As a boy Fosse would watch his famous films and try to imitate not only Astaire’s tapping feet, but also his debonair style and enchanting charm. At age twenty-five, Fosse landed his own contract with Hollywood’s MGM studios as a dancer in movies such as Kiss Me, Kate, Give A Girl A Break, and The Affairs of Dobie Gillis. One day Fred Astaire bumped into Fosse while on the MGM set. Astaire politely introduced himself and, before walking away, casually kicked a nail that was lying on the ground, causing it to ricochet in an intricate pattern that simply mesmerized Fosse. After Astaire left, Fosse recovered that nail and worked for hours to reenact its choreography—with the same ease and grace of Astaire.

But Bob Fosse certainly didn’t always stand in the shadows of Fred Astaire; he went on to revolutionize American theatre dance. His blend of awesome sensuality, clever humor, cinematic insight, popular references, and a hint of cynicism made musical theatre contemporary, consumable, and controversial. Fosse was one of the greatest dance visionaries of the 20th century. He directed and choreographed over twenty-three films and Broadway musicals and won four Oscars and eight Tony Awards (more than any other choreographer). Additionally, Fosse is the only person ever to have won the “Triple Crown:” a Tony for Pippin, an Oscar for Cabaret, and an Emmy for Liza Minnelli’s television concert, Liza with a ‘Z’—all in 1973.

Today, the signature style of bowler hats, turned-in toes, and stooped shoulders is universally recognized simply as “Fosse.” His innovative, internalized, character-driven style helped define a new vernacular in the art of American Musical Theatre, making “Fosse” a renowned genre of dance all its own. Bob Fosse’s legacy lives on onstage in musicals such as Chicago and Sweet Charity, in pop culture references and inspiration, and through Fosse Master Classes produced by The Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC.

 

56th Wedding Anniversary! Celebrating the Nuptials of Gwen Verdon & Bob Fosse

Celebrate with us today the 56th wedding anniversary of bride Gwen Verdon and groom Bob Fosse married on April 3rd 1960!

In the early spring of 1960 while their Broadway show ”Redhead” was on tour in Fosse’s home city of Chicago, Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse married, and by the time the tour reached Los Angeles, Verdon decided to retire from show business with the intention of concentrating on family life. In 1963 their daughter, Nicole, was born.

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Pictured is undated self Polaroid camera portrait from the Verdon Fosse Legacy archives, appears to be from the early 1960s, measuring 3 by 4 inches overall.

50th Anniversary of “Sweet Charity” on Broadway 1966-2016

BarSceneDrinkToday we celebrate the half century anniversary of Tony Award winning American musical Sweet Charity.

In January 1966, The Nederlanders turned New York City’s famed Palace Theatre into a legitimate theatrical stage for the opening of Sweet Charity conceived, staged and choreographed by Bob Fosse starring Gwen Verdon.

Gwen Verdon played the title role of Charity Hope Valentine, a taxi dancer at a dance hall called the “Fan-Dango Ballroom” in Times Square, New York City.

IfMyFriendsCOuldSeeMeNowA Continue reading

“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

Fosse Reconstruction of Crunchy Granola at The Dance Department of Pace University

The final sequence of a half hour documentary will be shot during a performance at:

Pace University

The Schimmel Theater

December 6, 2015 at 2:00pm

The documentary will present the reconstruction of “Crunchy Granola” the opening number of Bob Fosse’s 1978 Broadway show DANCIN’ from auditions to the final performance.

The number has been reconstructed by Kathryn Doby in collaboration with Scott Jovovich and the dance department of PACE University. Continue reading

Bob Fosse “Balletic-Dance Terms with English Pronunciations and Identifications” 1949

A ballet dance terminology instructional book written by Margaret Oloff belonging to American Emmy, Tony, and Academy Award winning choreographer Bob Fosse.

19FVFMetallic gold paper covered performance reference book center titled, “Balletic-Dance Terms with English Pronunciations and Identifications” by Margaret R. Oloff, soft bound first edition published in 1949. Bookstore label Continue reading

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOB FOSSE!

Celebrate today with us the birth of an American dance theatre and film performance icon

Robert Louis “Bob” Fosse born June 23, 1927

Pictured below are six a never before seen personally kept photographs from the Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC archives featuring Bob Fosse’s childhood from age 6 to about 14 years. Shown growing-up in Chicago, including early stage and dance eduction training.

BobFosseAge5

Grade school snapshot photograph of “Bobbie Fosse” having “age 6 yrs” longhand penciled verso. According to sister Marianne Fosse, their mother seemed to remember this photo was taken the day her husband went to receive his Crossing Guard or school Safety Monitor belt, directing pedestrians. Slight folds, small edge tears, and surface wear or scratches present, measuring 3 1/4 x 4 3/4 inches overall. Continue reading