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Lizanne Truex

Lizanne Truex

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Five Pennies (1959) Dancer
2.
 Oklahoma! (1955)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Contributions

LizanneFan ( 2008-05-21 )

Source: not available

(From a telephone intervew with Lizanne, May, 2007)

Born Elizabeth Ann Williams on March 21, 1931 at the Wesley Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, this 5'2" blonde dancing actress would gain immortality and generations of fans because of her appearance as one of the "Goon Girls" in the 1955 film version of Oklahoma!

Quickly recognizing her daughter's innate dance ability, at the age of 3 1/2, Elizabeth Ann's (called "Lizzie" by most everyone) mother enrolled her in the Kelly-Mack Dance Studio in Kansas City, studying a variety of basic dance forms with teacher William Mack. Immediately, the petite, white-blond-haired girl was chosen to appear in the annual Christmas Show at the Tower Theater in Kansas City in 1934 and her performing career began. She soon began studying more advanced ballet techniques with Mildred Lyons, an excellent teacher who took Lizzie "under her wing." Recognizing the young girl's natural talents and knowing that paying the tuition was difficult for the family, Lyons allowed her to continue classes without charge ("Don't say anything to your mother. I have 'fixed' the books, I will always back you up," Lyons told her.) Lizzie was soon asked to teach classes herself.

As a highly skilled teenaged dancer, she spent two summer seasons (1947-48) as "Prima Ballerina" with the Denver Post Opera - billed as "Elizabeth Williams." Upon graduation from high school, she enrolled at St. Mary's in Xavier, Kansas, as an "Art" major. While attending St. Mary's, she drove 45 miles back to Kansas City every weekend to teach classes at Mildred's dance studio. (continued)

LizanneFan ( 2008-05-21 )

Source: not available

Encouraged by Mildred to go to New York for more advanced ballet training, and with the help of one of the nuns at St. Mary's, Sister Mary Francis ("Who knew people everywhere and got me a job at the East River Savings Bank in Rockefeller Plaza") Lizzie was financially able to move to New York. There, she soon met and married Barry Truex, one of the sons of the successful actor, Ernest Truex.

In Manhattan, she studied ballet with Orest Sergievsky, a Russian who had danced with the original Ballet Russe, Michel Fokine, Ballet Theater and the Metropolitan Opera. The Kiev-born classical ballet master began strengthening and refining the young dancer's classic technique. Lizanne recalled that his studios were a hub of excitement and stimulation as Sergievsky attracted the leading dancers of the period for classes and rehearsal space, including Renee "Zizi" Jeanmaire, the female star of Roland Petit's Ballet des Paris that had just arrived to the United States. "Zizi" Jeanmaire's short "Pixie" haircut intrigued Elizabeth so much that she trimmed her long hair in a similar style. (continued)

LizanneFan ( 2008-05-23 )

Source: not available

Because of his faith in her dance talents, great potential and stage presence, Sergievsky placed her in a dance "Showcase," where Agnes deMille saw her and invited her to join the newly created Agnes deMille Dance Theatre. This historic dance company was composed of some of deMille's most famous dancers (Gemze de Lappe, James Mitchell, Virginia Bosler, Danny Daniels, Loren Hightower, Lydia Franklin, James Jamieson and Casimir Kokich) and the repertoire included "Suites" based on deMille's dances from the Broadway shows Brigadoon and Paint Your Wagon. Agnes immediately saw the comic spark in Lizzie's eyes and cast her in several comedic roles in the program. "[de Mille] intended to "go over the old tracks in good style" with a company of nineteen dancers, some of whom sang, and an orchestra of thirteen musicians, augmented with pickup string players in the big cities.

In four months they would cover 36,000 miles, playing mostly one-nights-coast-to-coast, south to Texas and north to Vancouver, traveling by bus to 126 cities." (Carol Easton, No Intermissions, 1996). The company rehearsed for a month in Martha Graham's studio and before she left for the grueling tour, she and Barry discussed her need for a stage name and came up with "Lizanne" (combining her nickname "Lizzie" with her middle name "Ann") and adding her married name. "Lizanne Truex" was born. (continued)

LizanneFan ( 2008-05-23 )

Source: not available

Wanting to appear more "theatrical" among this cast of Broadway stars, Lizanne dyed her naturally blond hair a dark brunette. Realizing that the "exotic" brunette look was not a good one for her tiny, delicate face, she eventually took her hair back to it's natural blonde, but kept the 'Pixie" cut. The Dance Theatre group opened on October 12, 1953 in Baltimore and gave its final performance in June 1954. When the tour ended, Lizanne traveled to Chicago to meet Barry who was doing a play there and soon received a telegram from Agnes deMille herself, asking Lizanne to come to Arizona to appear in the "Kansas City" number with Gene Nelson for the film version of Oklahoma! At first thinking that was all she would be involved in, director Fred Zinneman and choreographer deMille liked Lizanne?s and Jane Fischer's work so much that they decided to add them - and their characters "The Goon Girls"- to the entire film. DeMille contacted Lizanne and she was soon on her way to Hollywood for nearly 6-months of filming.

When asked about her distinctive haircut in the film, Lizanne said that because of the innocent tomboyish behavior of her character, the studio hair stylist changed her "Pixie Cut" to a "Bowl Cut" - "Like the little kids of the period were given." While waiting for the film to be released, Lizanne joined the European tour of the stage version of Oklahoma! which starred Shirley Jones and her then-husband, Jack Cassidy. In this tour, Lizanne played the role of "The Girl Who Falls Down," performed in the film by Virginia Bosler. (continued)

LizanneFan ( 2008-05-23 )

Source: not available

Returning to the West Coast, she was cast in a small dramatic role on TV's "Crossroads" and auditioned for a stage production of Can Can at the Civic Playhouse in West Los Angeles, which was to open Christmas night, 1956. At first advertised to be directed by famed movie dance director Busby Berkeley, when I asked her if Berkeley did direct it, she laughed and responded, "No. Rouben Mamoulian, who also did not do much directing either, then replaced him. Instead, he just sat around and told wonderful stories about his stage and film projects." The show, starring French film star Denise Darcel, somehow opened. When the production team realized that the budding starlet Kipp Hamilton (who had been hired for her "Marquee Value") was cast in the lead dancer role of "Claudine" - but could not dance - the producer and choreographer, Earl Barton, gave clumsy starlet Kipp her "walking papers," took Lizanne out of the dance ensemble and put her into the role. When the show ended in Los Angeles, the production was sold to the Hacienda Hotel in Las Vegas, where it opened on April 11, 1957. (continued)

LizanneFan ( 2008-05-23 )

Source: not available

Lizanne received glowing reviews of her dancing, acting and singing talents including the April 20, 1957 edition of Fabulous Las Vegas which raved: "Lizanne Truex sparkles as 'Claudine,' the flirtatious dancer. Her performance is stellar throughout the entire show as she sings and dances her way right into your heart." During the run of Can Can, Lizanne flew in and out of Los Angeles to assist Barton for appearances by "The Earl Barton Dancers" on "The Frances Langford Show," a local Los Angeles TV series. When Can Can closed on June 6, 1957, Barton was hired to choreograph Monte Proser's Tropicana Revue at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas and added Lizanne to the multi-talented cast, which, during its one-year run, would include George Chakiris, Elaine Dunn, Dante Di Paolo and Neile Adams.

During this time, Lizanne and Earl were married and when the Tropicana revue ended, both returned to Hollywood, as Barton had film choreographic assignments. Lizanne danced on several installments of "Polka Parade," a local Los Angeles weekly TV series that gave employment to dozens of out-of-work Hollywood dancers of the time. She continued to assist Earl and even danced a wild Charleston with Danny Kaye in the film The Five Pennies (1959). She recalled the working relationship she had with comedian Kaye: "He liked to pick me up, carry me across the room and put me in his lap to tell me stories about his career." She later had an acting role in Kaye's The Man From the Diner's Club ('63). (continued)

LizanneFan ( 2008-05-23 )

Source: not available

Although she said "The movie ran about four hours long, so my part was cut out and dropped on the cutting room floor. But, every year, I get my only residual check for that film. Bless Danny Kaye!" In 1960, she was chosen to be one of the prestigious "Hermes Pan Dancers" in Johnny Mathis' first international tour. The tour began in Asia and then played in Canada (Toronto) and multiple U.S. cities, ending at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas in January 1961. Returning to Los Angeles, she also had an acting role in another of Barton's films, Twist Around the Clock ('61).

The marriage to Barton, however, was coming to an end. In 1962 she married Robert "Bob" xxx, the man who would still be her life partner some 45 years later. At the time, Bob was doing the Interior Design for model homes for the Tony Pereira Design Firm. She had known Bob for some time, often water skiing with him and enjoying his sense of humor. That same year, she appeared as "Anybodys" in a San Diego production of West Side Story which starred the original Broadway leading man, Larry Kert and Carla Alberghett, sister of Anna Maria Alberghetti. Although the production was slated to go on an extended tour, the show - and Lizanne's show business career - came to an end. (continued)

LizanneFan ( 2008-05-23 )

Source: not available

On May 26, 1964, she gave birth to a son, David, and unsatisfied with the rejection and uncertainty of show business, she completely gave it up for a more fulfilling life as wife and mother. Bob began his own business and the family moved to California. When asked who her inspirations were, she quickly cited her brother who is a Jesuit Priest and her early dance teacher, Mildred Lyons. She recalled that Mildred was the person in her life who gave Lizanne her focus and determination, at one time saying to her: "Do you want to dance or go to the School Prom?" Looking at her career, her dance did take her to multiple Proms all over the world and into the hearts of those who saw - and will continue to see her.

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