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

Gwen Verdon, Marvin’s Room Miramax Films 1996

The life-affirming reminder of the gift we give ourselves when we love unconditionally is Marvin’s Room, Scott McPherson’s dramatic comedy about two estranged sisters who are forced back into each other’s lives by health crisis. The play has been presented in many incarnations, including an Off Broadway run in 1991, a year before Mr. McPherson’s death from AIDS complications at age 33, before his 1992 death he finished writing the screenplay later produced by Robert De Niro with Miramax Films in 1996. The seminal play has not been performed on a Broadway stage since. This month on 42nd street the Roundabout Theatre Company opens Marvin’s Room at the American Airlines Theatre.

In honor of the June 29th Marvin’s Room play revival we visit film scenes from the 1996 motion picture directed by Jerry Zaks with actress Gwen Verdon playing Ruth Wakefield, Marvin’s sister, starring award winning actors Meryl StreepLeonardo DiCaprioContinue reading

Remembering

Today we remember the accomplishments of a Broadway star, Tony Award – winning actor and Tony Award – nominated director, Roger Rees (May 1944 – July 2015).  Last week at exactly 7:45pm for one minute the marquees of Broadway theatres in New York were dimmed in his memory.BobFosseRogerReesCover

Studio promotional press photograph reading “ILLUSION AND REALITY – Director Bob Fosse shares a moment with Roger Rees who plays film director Aram Nicholas in Bob Fosse’s  Star 80 Warner Bros.”

Roger Rees began his film career in 1983 when Bob Fosse cast him opposite Mariel Hemingway as director Aram Nicholas in Star 80.  A film about the tragic life and death of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten. His last Broadway appearance was the starring role of Anton Schell in The Visit, opposite Chita Rivera, which opened 23 April 2015.

Star80LobbyCardReesCharlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, said, “We are so fortunate that Roger Rees has graced our stages through the Continue reading

Gwen Verdon “Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus” Sweet Charity, 1966

Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus officially announces today that they are eliminating elephant acts from their shows and all elephants will be relocated to their Center for Elephant Conservation.

The circus plans to phase out elephant acts by 2018.  Their 43 elephants will live at the company’s 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida. Twenty-nine animals are already there, and the other 14 will arrive as they are phased out from the circus. Elephant acts have been showcased by Ringling Bros for more than a century.

Pictured below are two original black and white press call or news print publicity photograph proofs featuring Gwen Verdon in full costume as Charity Hope Valentine in the original 1966 Tony award winning Broadway “musical smash” hit Sweet Charity conceived, staged and choreographed by Bob Fosse.  Gwen Verdon is pictured gallantly waving her right arm atop a Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus performance used elephant with side promotional panels reading “Sweet Charity.”GwenRinglingBro Continue reading

Bob Fosse “Life as a Long Rehearsal” American Film, 1979

American Film | Magazine of the Film and Television Arts | November 1979
Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz: A Life As Extravaganza

“Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz is a confessional, hallucinatory extravaganza.  Here is his candid assessment of frenetic life in film and theater.” Continue reading

“Gwen Verdon: too hot for Hollywood?” Tempo News, 1955

“She’s everything the undesirable made absolutely and forever desirable.”

An overview photograph of “Gwen Verdon: too hot for Hollywood?” news article appearing in “Tempo News.” Tempo or “Quick News” was a weekly supermarket check-out magazine aimed towards the suburban American housewife market of the 1950s. Measuring 4 x 5 3/4 inches.

This particular Tempo News issue was published “July 18, 1955.”

Brian's property Article captions reading in-part:
“Hollywood’s censorship of Gwen Verdon dance in Gentlemen Marry Brunettes repeated familiar pattern of her film cuts.”
“Broadway’s cheers for Can-Can dancer the current star of sellout, Damn Yankees.”

Continue reading

Gwen Verdon personal performace scrapbook, 1950s

Pictured above housed within an archival paper storage box clearly side labeled “Fosse Verdon Archives” is dancer Gwen Verdon’s personal scrapbook, about 40 detached pages dating from the 1940s to early 1960s with the majority of clippings and content dating from the 1950s. Most pages are double sided and overall contain hundreds of photographs and newspaper clippings spanning three of her five decade or half-a-century career in the American performing arts.

Three interior affixed scrapbook newspaper clippings read: “Small World By Douglas Watt, Show People,  Continue reading

Bob Fosse Chicago rare press photo after musician strike, 1975

Pictured above an image of “ticket-seekers” line formed outside of the 46th Street Theatre. Having the marque top billing centered reading “Gwen Verdon Chita Rivera Jerry Orbach, Chicago, A Musical Vaudeville” also reading Continue reading

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER EXCLUSIVE: HBO, Bryan Singer Adapting Bob Fosse Story

Bryan Singer is going from mutants and giants to the life of one of the great choreographer-directors of the 20th Century, Bob Fosse.

Singer (X-MenJack the Giant Killer) is slated to direct the project, which is to be a feature-length film designed for the premium cable network. Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, the duo behind movies such as Hairspray and Chicago, is exec producing with Singer. Nicole Fosse, daughter of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, will serve as Executive Co-Producer.

The project, now untitled and in early development, will be a co-production with Sony Television.

An actor, dancer, choreographer and stage and screen director, Fosse presented a version of his life in his autobiographical 1979 feature All That Jazz. That Oscar-winning film starred Roy Scheider as a hard-living choreographer/director determined to push the envelope.

After several early film appearances in such movies as Kiss Me Kate, Fosse moved to Broadway, where he choreographed such shows as The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees. On Yankees, he met his future wife, dancer Gwen Verdon.

Fosse created his own, immediately recognized jazz dance style, full of bowler hats, jazz hands, angular hip thrusts and shrugging shoulders.

On Broadway, he went on to direct and choreograph such shows as RedheadSweet CharityPippin and Chicago.

He made his film debut as a director with the 1969 movie version of Sweet Charity, starring Shirley MacLaine. His second feature, Cabaret, won eight Oscars, including best director and best picture. In addition to All That Jazz, his other feature credits include Lenny, which starred Dustin Hoffman as comedian Lenny Bruce, and Star 80, in which Mariel Hemingway played murdered Playboy centerfold Dorothy Stratten.