Robert 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.
Overview image of Bob Fosse’s bestowed nickel patina Tony Award medallion reading: “The American Theatre Wing presents to Bob Fosse, Choreographer For Distinguished Achievement in Theatre, DANCIN’, 1978” measuring 3 inches in diameter, trophy mounted.
Pictured is Gwen Verdon backstage as Charity Hope Valentine during the original Broadway “musical smash” hit Sweet Charityconceived, staged and choreographed by Bob Fosse at the Palace Theatre. Charity is showing a brassiere shoulder strap and wearing a light colored terry cloth robe with noted Broadway Stage Manager Paul Phillips in foreground. The provided 1967 news-wire corresponding press caption does not use the word tattoo, it is described as a “heart painted on her arm” by Phillips. The top center left shoulder hand painted single arrowed heart reads the name of her no good boyfriend “CHARLIE” appearing in Central Park New York City during Scene One, Act I.
Overview image of Bob Fosse’s fifth bestowed nickel patina Tony Award medallion reading: “The American Theatre Wing presents to Bob Fosse, Choreographer For Distinguished Achievement in Theatre, “Sweet Charity”, 1965-66.”
Measuring 3 inches in diameter, mounted on a custom square presentation wall display with black velvet fabric surround. Continue reading →
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 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 →
Today in 1996, the first Broadway revival of Chicago opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, and it continues to run at the Ambassador Theatre. Chicago is a musical set in Prohibition-era Chicago, with music is by John Kander with lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. Chicago’s 1996 Broadway revival holds the record for the longest-running musical revival on Broadway and is its fourth longest-running show.
In celebration of this day, we bring you ‘All That Jazz’ as performed by Bebe Neuwirth on the Rosie O’Donnell Show. Click below to check it out!
Overview image of Gwen Verdon’s first bestowed nickel patina Tony Award medallion reading: “The American Theatre Wing Presents to Gwen Verdon This Award For Her Performance in “CAN-CAN” 1953-54″Continue reading →