Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance by Brent Phillips

By Brent Phillips

From the trolley scene in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers's final dance at the silver reveal (The Barkleys of Broadway, 1949) to Judy Garland's undying, tuxedo-clad functionality of "Get satisfied" (Summer Stock, 1950), Charles Walters staged the enduring musical sequences of Hollywood's golden age. in the course of his profession, this Academy Award–nominated director and choreographer showcased the skills of stars equivalent to Gene Kelly, Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds, and Frank Sinatra. even if, regardless of his many severe and advertisement triumphs, Walters's identify frequently is going unrecognized today.

In the 1st full-length biography of Walters, Brent Phillips chronicles the artist's profession, from his days as a featured Broadway performer and protégé of theater legend Robert Alton to his successes at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. he is taking readers backstage of a number of the studio's such a lot loved musicals, together with Easter Parade (1948), Lili (1953), High Society (1956), and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). additionally, Phillips recounts Walters's institutions with Lucille Ball, Joan Crawford, and Gloria Swanson, examines the director's uncredited paintings on numerous movies, together with the blockbuster Gigi (1958), and discusses his contributions to musical theater and American renowned culture.

This revealing booklet additionally considers Walters's own lifestyles and explores how he navigated the as an overtly homosexual guy. Drawing on unpublished oral histories, correspondence, and new interviews, this biography deals an unique and critical new examine an exhilarating period in Hollywood heritage.

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Sample text

Chuck, however, was a “new face” no more. In later years, he would reconsider Sillman’s competence, calling him “impossible—hysterical and a big ham. I [thought] he knew what he was doing. . ” 19 Charles Walters Nevertheless, the two remained in sporadic contact. Sillman reminisced with historian Ronald L. Davis about a reunion in 1978, “a big alumni party given for me on the Coast. There was a girl in [Fools Rush In] that [Walters] danced with, Dorothy Fox, a wonderful dancer. She was his partner for years, and they hadn’t seen each other.

Plus Bob was definitely fast. I don’t know if he got ideas at home, at night before he came to rehearsal, or whether ideas just occurred to him. But he never seemed to hesitate. Never. He would start setting steps, and all of a sudden, something would happen, and he’d get an inspiration or maybe he’d change what he had in mind. ”11 Beyond his creativity and speed, Alton had the ability to inspire confidence. It was another lesson learned: to be a good choreographer, Walters observed, one must first be a good teacher.

Why wouldn’t they help me? ’ ” Walters quickly gathered that most directors did not teach actors to act. Mercifully, he felt more at home in dance rehearsal with choreographer Albertina Rasch. Though renowned for her popular Hollywood and Broadway ballet troupe—which largely consisted of chorines en pointe— Rasch also valued technique and encouraged personality. Walters earned both her attention and her allegiance. ”11 Jubilee would be the first of four major Broadway or Hollywood musicals to connect Walters and Cole Porter.

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