BOB FOSSE Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Name: Bob Fosse                                                                         
Birth name: Robert Louis Fosse                                                           
Born: 23 June 1927 Chicago, Illinois, United States                                     
Died: 23 September 1987 Washington D.C., United States                                   
Bob Fosse (June 23, 1927 – September 23, 1987) was a musical theater                   
choreographer and director, and a film director. He won an unprecedented eight           
Tony Awards for choreography, as well as one for direction, and received the             
Academy Award for Best Director in 1972 for Cabaret.                                     
He was born Robert Louis Fosse in Chicago, to a Norwegian father and Irish               
mother, the youngest of six children. He teamed up with Charles Grass, another           
young dancer, and began a collaboration under the name, The Riff Brothers. They         
toured theatres throughout the Chicago area.                                             
Eventually Fosse was hired for the show Tough Situation, which toured military           
and naval bases in the Pacific. He later said that he had perfected his                 
technique as a performer, choreographer, and director while serving his tour of         
Fosse moved to Hollywood with the ambition of being the next Fred Astaire. His           
early screen appearances included Give A Girl A Break, The Affairs of Dobie             
Gillis and Kiss Me, Kate, all released in 1953. It was a short sequence that he         
choreographed in the last that brought him to the attention of Broadway                 
Although Fosse's career in film was cut short by premature balding, which               
limited the roles he could take, he was reluctant to move from Hollywood to             
theatre. In 1954, he choreographed his first musical, The Pajama Game, followed         
by Damn Yankees in 1955. It was while he was working on the latter show that he         
first met Gwen Verdon.                                                                   
Fosse developed a jazz dance style that was immediately recognizable, exuding a         
stylized, cynical sexuality. Other notable distinctions of his style included           
the use of inward knees, rounded shoulders and body isolations.                         
With Fred Astaire as an influence, he used props such as bowler hats, canes and         
chairs. His trademark use of hats was influenced by his own self-consciousness.         
He used gloves in his performances because he did not like his hands. His dance         
routines were intense and specific, yet had a simplicity to them.                       
Some of his most popular numbers include "Steam Heat" from The Pajama Game and "Big     
Spender" from Sweet Charity. The "Rich Man's Frug" scene in "Sweet Charity" is           
another example of his signature style. The filmed routines in Cabaret (1972)           
are particularly characteristic of Fosse, the vulgar energy of vaudeville and           
burlesque updated and coolly contained within a slick, conscious sophistication.         
In 1986 he directed and choreographed the Broadway production, Big Deal, which           
he also wrote.                                                                           
Fosse directed five feature films. His first, Sweet Charity in 1969, was an             
adaptation of his Broadway musical. His second film, Cabaret, won 8 Academy             
Awards, including Best Director. Fosse next directed Lenny in 1974, a biopic of         
the self-destructive comic Lenny Bruce. Lenny was nominated for Best Picture and         
Best Director Oscars. In 1979, Fosse co-wrote and directed the semi-autobiographical     
All That Jazz, which won four Academy Awards. All That Jazz also earned Fosse           
his third Oscar nomination for Best Director, and the film was also nominated           
for Best Picture. In addition, All That Jazz won the Grand Prize at the 1980             
Cannes Film Festival. Fosse's final film, 1983's Star 80, was a controversial           
biopic of slain Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten. It evoked mixed critical             
reaction, although Richard Schickel of Time and Rex Reed gave it rave reviews,           
and it has acquired a strong cult following.                                             
Fosse performed a memorable song and dance number in Stanley Donen's 1974 film           
version of The Little Prince. In 1977, Fosse had a small role in the romantic           
comedy Thieves.                                                                         
Fosse was in Washington D.C. On September 23, 1987, for a revival of his musical         
Sweet Charity which was opening at the National Theater. He collapsed in his             
room at the Willard Hotel about 7 P.M. as the show was beginning nearby. He was         
taken to George Washington University where he died of a heart attack at the age         
of 60.