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Bob Fosse

Bob Fosse

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Sweet Charity DVD This 1969 musical film, choreographed and directed by Bob Fosse, tells the story... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

Liza With A "Z" DVD This Bob Fosse-directed, originally shot for TV special film of a 1972 concert... more info $26.99was $26.99 Buy Now



Also Known As: Robert Louis Fosse, Robert Fosse Died: September 23, 1987
Born: June 23, 1927 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA Profession: director, choreographer, actor, screenwriter, vaudevillian, dancer, librettist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Arguably one of the most influential and visionary choreographers of the 20th century, Bob Fosse brought style and sexuality to the Broadway stage through his dances for such memorable musicals as "The Pajama Game" (1954), "Damn Yankees" (1958), "Sweet Charity" (1969), "Pippin" (1972) and "Chicago" (1975), as well as his direction on such films as "Cabaret" (1972), "Lenny" (1974) and "All That Jazz" (1979). Fosse began his career as a dancer with aspirations of Hollywood stardom, but his slight stature and baldness put a halt to that dream. He headed for Broadway, where his steamy, jazz-influenced choreography and direction wowed audiences and earned numerous Tonys. In 1969, he made the leap to film directing, and won the Oscar for "Cabaret" before enjoying critical success with the Lenny Bruce biopic, "Lenny," and the autobiographical fantasy, "All That Jazz" (1979). A larger-than-life figure whose passion for his art was matched by his appetite for hard, fast-paced living, Fosse's drive and technique made him a legend in the theater world, which fell in love with him again through celebrations and revivals after his untimely death in 1987.

Arguably one of the most influential and visionary choreographers of the 20th century, Bob Fosse brought style and sexuality to the Broadway stage through his dances for such memorable musicals as "The Pajama Game" (1954), "Damn Yankees" (1958), "Sweet Charity" (1969), "Pippin" (1972) and "Chicago" (1975), as well as his direction on such films as "Cabaret" (1972), "Lenny" (1974) and "All That Jazz" (1979). Fosse began his career as a dancer with aspirations of Hollywood stardom, but his slight stature and baldness put a halt to that dream. He headed for Broadway, where his steamy, jazz-influenced choreography and direction wowed audiences and earned numerous Tonys. In 1969, he made the leap to film directing, and won the Oscar for "Cabaret" before enjoying critical success with the Lenny Bruce biopic, "Lenny," and the autobiographical fantasy, "All That Jazz" (1979). A larger-than-life figure whose passion for his art was matched by his appetite for hard, fast-paced living, Fosse's drive and technique made him a legend in the theater world, which fell in love with him again through celebrations and revivals after his untimely death in 1987.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Star 80 (1983) Director
2.
  All That Jazz (1979) Director
3.
  Lenny (1974) Director
4.
  Cabaret (1972) Director
5.
  Sweet Charity (1969) Director
6.
  Liza With a Z (1972) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Thieves (1977) Junky
2.
 Little Prince, The (1974) Snake
3.
 Damn Yankees (1958) Fosse, Lola's mambo partner
4.
 My Sister Eileen (1955) Frank Lippencott
5.
 Give a Girl a Break (1954) Bob Dowdy
6.
 The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953) Charlie Trask
7.
 Kiss Me Kate (1953) "Hortensio"
9.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Danced in vaudeville and burlesque as an adolescent in his native Chicago
:
As a sailor during World War II, performed in variety shows put together by Joseph Papp
:
After WWII formed a dance act with first wife Mary Ann Niles
1946:
Moved to NYC
1948:
Stage debut in chorus of national touring company of "Call Me Mister"
1949:
Broadway debut in revue, "Dance Me a Song"; met future second wife Joan McCracken
1952:
Moved to Hollywood
1953:
Signed MGM contract and appeared in "Give a Girl a Break", "The Affairs of Dobie Gillis" and "Kiss Me Kate"
1953:
Choreographed onscreen dance for himself and Carol Haney in "From This Moment On" number in "Kiss Me Kate"
1954:
First Broadway play as choreographer, "The Pajama Game"; received first Tony Award
1955:
First film as choreographer, "My Sister Eileen"; also acted
1957:
Choreographed "New Girl in Town", a musical adaptation of "Anna Christie", starring third wife Gwen Verdon
1959:
Made Broadway musical directing debut with "Redhead", starring Gwen Verdon and Richard Kiley
1962:
Directed "Little Me"; first collaboration with Neil Simon as book writer
1964:
Returned to stage as a performer in City Center revival of "Pal Joey"
1965:
Only Fosse show to close before reaching Broadway, "Pleasures and Palaces", bombed at Detroit's Fisher Theatre
1966:
Had success on Broadway with the musical "Sweet Charity", with book by Neil Simon and starring Verdon
1969:
Film directing debut, "Sweet Charity", starring Shirley MacLaine
1973:
Won what showbiz folks refer to as the triple crown: the Oscar for directing "Cabaret" (1972); the Tony for directing "Pippin" (and another for choregraphing it), and the Emmy for directing (and two others, for choreographing and producing) the NBC variety special "Liza With a Z"
1974:
Helmed fine adaptation of Julian Berry's play "Lenny", a powerful biography of troubled nightclub comic Lenny Bruce; earned second Oscar nomination as Best Director
1974:
Co-choreographed and appeared as the Snake in the film musical "The Little Prince"
1975:
"Chicago", conceived and directed by Fosse (with book by Fosse and lyricist Fred Ebb and music by John Kander), opened on Broadway, starring Verdon and Chita Rivera; the song "All That Jazz" would become the title of his autobiographical fantasy film; an even more successful revival of "Chicago" would open in 1996
1978:
His dance spectacular "Dancin'" opened on Broadway, pointing the way to shows that could play easily to foreign business travelers, without the language barrier
1979:
Directed "All That Jazz", starring Roy Scheider, Jessica Lange and Ann Reinking; also wrote screenplay and choreographed; earned Oscar nominations as Best Director and for Best Original Screenplay
1983:
Wrote and directed "Star 80", the story of Dorothy Statton's life and tragic murder; Fosse's last movie, he re-edited it for TV
1985:
Adapted musical book, "Big Deal", from the Italian film "Big Deal on Madonna Street"
1986:
Stage the popular revival of "Sweet Charity", featuring Debbie Allen, Bebe Neuwirth and Michael Rupert
1987:
Collapsed on the street in Washington DC, dying within sight of the National Theatre where his dancers were dressing for a touring revival of "Sweet Charity"
1998:
"Fosse: A Celebration in Song and Dance", an ambitious retrospective co-conceived by Richard Maltby, Ann Reinking and Chet Walker (with Gwen Verdon as artistic advisor); show's title shortened to "Fosse" for its Broadway run
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Amundsen High School: Chicago , Illinois -
American Theatre Wing: New York , New York - 1947 - 1948

Notes

"There were a couple of men who were crazy about me when they saw '[King] Kong'. Fosse was one. He got in touch with me. We became friends and lovers. We had a wonderful relationship. We laughed like crazy. I loved Fosse because he was a renegade and there was such a dark side to him. He loved that whole seedy side of New York--Forty-Second Street, the strip joints, the live sex shows. We'd hang out there, go to the arcades, these weird shows. Fosse knew it like the back of his hand. We were in and out of places you wouldn't even know existed.


"There was something very seductive about someone so caught up in self-destruction. It was very much like what you saw in 'All That Jazz', with his drinking and smoking. But he was unbelievably sweet, tender, and generous. He was so kind at a time when a lot of people had dismissed me ... There was, about Fosse, something sad. Profoundly lonely. That's what I connected with more than anything." --Jessica Lange quoted in Vanity Fair, October 1991.

Fosse once claimed his distinctive look stemmed from an attempt to hide his deficiencies: "I was getting pretty bald for a hoofer and felt a hat would hide it. Canes became important to me when my hands started trembling and seemed like a good way to distract the audience." --from The Boston Globe, September 6, 1998.

As Fosse acknowledged, his turned-in, angular, low-to-the-ground style developed from what [Gwen] Hillier [former Fosse dancer and director of a 1998 revival of 'Pippin' in the Los Angeles area] calls "the quirkiness of his own body--he wasn't tall, didn't have a huge build or as much ballet training as he probably would have liked." So he began by capitalizing on his unique personality as a dancer and later demanded the same individuality from others.

"The original [national company of] 'Pippin' was one of the first shows that I danced where I wasn't just a happy villager. He explained that he wanted each of us to find out exactly who we were in the show, to make our own personal statement there." --From Los Angeles Times, May 7, 1998.

"My life is an open pamphlet." --Bob Fosse

"He was like a master chef who put his finger in the kettle and said, 'It's right.' He was hardly an intellectual. He had this long sleaze streak, and that got him into trouble. But I don't know that you could classify him as a rebel." --biographer Morton Gottfried quoted in USA Today, June 23, 1998.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Mary Ann Niles. Dancer. First wife; married in 1949; divorced in 1951; died in 1987, one week after Fosse's death.
wife:
Joan McCracken. Dancer, actor. Second wife; married in 1953; divorced in 1954; died in 1961; met while both appeared in "Dance Me a Song" on Broadway (1949).
wife:
Gwen Verdon. Dancer, actor, assistant choreographer. Married in 1960; separated but never divorced, remaining friends and collaborators; he collapsed in her arms in 1987, stricken with his third, and fatal heart attack; starred as Lola in film version of "Damn Yankees", choreographed by Fosse.
companion:
Ann Reinking. Dancer, actor, choreographer. Together on and off from 1973 to 1979.
companion:
Jessica Lange. Actor, model. Had on-again, off-again relationship that began in 1975.
companion:
Julie Hagerty. Actor. Had on-again, off-again relationship between 1977 and 1979.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Cyril K Fosse.
mother:
Sarah Fosse.
daughter:
Nicole Fosse. Actor, dancer. Born 1963; mother Gwen Verdon; performed in father's "Dancin'" (1978); consulted on the 1998 retrospective "Fosse: A Celebration in Song and Dance"; has three children.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Razzle Dazzle: The Life and Work of Bob Fosse"
"All His Jazz: The Life and Death of Bob Fosse"
"Bob Fosse's Broadway" Heinemann

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