Verdon, Gwen

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1925-01-13
Death 2000-10-18
Americans

Biographical notes:

Biographical Sketch

Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1927, Bob Fosse is known as one of musical theater's greatest choreographers and directors. After appearing as a dancer in such films as Give A Girl A Break and Kiss Me Kate, both 1953, Fosse established himself as a choreographer in his first two Broadway shows, The Pajama Game (1954) and Damn Yankees (1955). His choreography includes such other classics as New Girl in Town (1957), Redhead (1959), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1960), Chicago (1975), and Dancin' (1977). Films directed and choreographed by Fosse include Sweet Charity (1966), Pippin (1972), Cabaret (1973) and All That Jazz (1979), a semi-autobiographical effort. Fosse appeared in and choreographed the film The Little Prince (1974). He also directed the films Lenny (1974) and Star 80 (1983). In 1986, he directed and choreographed Big Deal, a Broadway production which he also wrote.

Fosse's work earned him many awards including a Tony for Pippin, an Oscar for Cabaret and an Emmy for Liza With A Z, all in the same year, making him the first person ever to win the "triple crown" of the performing arts. He also captured the Tony Award for Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Redhead, Little Me, Sweet Charity, and Dancin', and won three Emmy Awards for his television special, Liza With A Z . Other awards include a Drama Desk award for Pippin and a Donaldson Award for Pajama Game .

Gwen Verdon, born in Los Angeles, California, in 1925, began her career as a dancer and continued to play roles throughout her career that employed her extraordinary dancing talents. She made her Broadway debut in Alive and Kicking in 1950, and is best known for her work in the Broadway productions of Can-Can (1953), Damn Yankees (1955), New Girl in Town (1957), Redhead (1959), Sweet Charity (1966) and Chicago (1975). Film appearances have included On the Riviera (1951), Meet Me After the Show (1951), David and Bathsheba (1952), Mississippi Gambler (1953), Damn Yankees (1958), Cocoon I (1986), Cotton Club (1984), and Cocoon II (1988).

Verdon has appeared in numerous television shows including M*A*S*H, Dear John, Webster, and Magnum PI, where she earned an Emmy award nomination. She was also a guest of the People's Republic of China, where she taught theater dance to the Beijing Ballet Company, and has worked as a consultant for revivals of several Fosse/Verdon shows.

Verdon is the recipient of many awards for her work. Her performances in Can-Can, Damn Yankees, New Girl in Town, and Redhead all earned her Tony Awards.

Fosse and Verdon were married in 1960 and had one daughter, Nicole Fosse, also a professional dancer who appeared on Broadway in Phantom of the Opera . Although separated, Fosse and Verdon remained close friends and collaborators until his death on the opening night of a revival of Sweet Charity at the National Theater in Washington, DC, in 1987.

Related Publications:

Chandler, James Winston The Function of the Choreographer in the Development of the Conceptual Musical: An Examination of the Work of Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse, and Michael Bennett on Broadway Between 1944 and 1981. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Dissertation Services, 1993. Gargaro, Kenneth Vance The Work of Bob Fosse and the Choreographer-directors in the Translation of Musicals to the Screen. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International, 1980. Gottfried, Martin All His Jazz: The Life and Death of Bob Fosse. New York: Bantam Books, 1990. Grubb, Kevin Boyd Razzle Dazzle: The Life and Work of Bob Fosse. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. Martin, Cheryl Annette "Man on a Tightrope: The Dark Vision of Bob Fosse." Master's thesis, University of Southern California, 1985. Prince, Harold Contradictions: Notes on Twenty-six Years in the Theatre. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1974. Sloan, Ronna Elaine Bob Fosse: An Analytic-critical Study. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International, 1983.

From the guide to the Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon Collection, 1920-1991, (Music Division Library of Congress)

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