Click here to send us your inquires or call (852) 36130518
Showing posts with label Dancer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dancer. Show all posts


MADONNA (Madonna Louise Ciccone) (1958– ) Singer, Actress, Dancer, Songwriter

A pop icon on the level of Elvis Presley and MARILYN MONROE, Madonna was arguably the most infiuential female performer of the late 20th century. Born Madonna Louise Ciccone on August 16, 1958, she was the third of six children in a Roman Catholic family living in Pontiac, Michigan. When Madonna was six, her mother also named Madonna, died of cancer. As the eldest daughter in the Ciccone household, she was largely responsible for taking care of the home and her younger siblings, even after her father remarried. Hemmed in by her religion and her father’s discipline, she later recalled that she “grew up feeling repressed. I was really a good girl.” An honor student and cheerleader, Madonna also studied ballet with instructor Christopher Flynn. He provided Madonna with welcome relief from her oppressive home life by taking her to dance clubs in downtown Detroit. Madonna won a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan. She soon dropped out, however, to seek her fortune in New York. Madonna arrived in the city the summer of 1978 with $37 in her pocket. To earn her rent, she worked as an artists’ and photographers’ model, while performing in the third company of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

In the thick of New York’s underground culture, Madonna soon gravitated toward the music scene. With the encouragement of her live-in boyfriend, musician Dan Gilroy, she began learning to play the drums and the guitar and experimenting with writing songs. She also sang with various bands, having a brief stint in Paris as a singer in a French disco group. Back in New York, her singing caught the attention of Mark Kamis, a disc jockey at Danceteria, then one of the city’s leading clubs. With Kamis’s help, Madonna cut a demo recording of the song “Everybody,” which landed her a contract with Warner Brothers. Her first album, Madonna (1983), initially sold badly. Sales took off only after three of its tracks “Holiday,” “Lucky Star,” and “Borderline” became dance club favorites. Adding to the appeal of her disco-infiuenced pop sound was her fashion sense. In music videos played on the then-fiedgling cable station MTV, Madonna presented herself as streetwise urchin. Badly dyed, teased hair, lace gloves, underwear worn as outerwear, and crucifixes were all hallmarks of her early style. With the success of her first album, Madonna was able to insist on having the best producers and musicians work on her next, Like a Virgin (1984).

The album and two singles from it the title track and “Material Girl”—charted at number one. Again Madonna successfully used MTV to market her music. As in the video for “Like a Virgin,” she wore a white wedding dress to perform the song on the MTV Video Music Awards. Writhing on stage as if in sexual ecstasy, Madonna’s performance was considered shocking at the time. In her music video for “Material Girl,” Madonna was made up as MARILYN MONROE in a clever send-up of the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). Giving up her usual dance club look for a glamorous red ball gown, Madonna went through the first of the many physical transformations that define her career. In 1985 Madonna made her first foray into film with a small part in  Vision Quest. She became a full-fledged movie star with Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), playing a fashionable free spirit, a character who closely resembled herself.

The same year, she made her stage debut in David Rabe’s Goose and Tom-Tom, opposite Sean Penn. Madonna and Penn were married for four tumultuous years before divorcing in 1989. Madonna continued her recording career with two more hit albums, True Blue (1986) and Like a Prayer (1989). Turning to slightly more serious material, she provoked national controversies with several songs. “Papa Don’t Preach,” from True Blue, confounded Madonna’s conservative critics by telling the story of a pregnant teen who opts for motherhood instead of abortion. The title track on Like a Prayer angered the Catholic Church because of the video’s provocative images, which included Madonna kissing an African-American Christ and dancing in a field ablaze with burning crosses. Because of the uproar over the video, Pepsico pulled its sponsorship of Madonna’s upcoming tour, though the singer was able to keep her $5 million fee.

In the late 1980s, Madonna repeatedly struck out at the box office. Her films Shanghai Surprise (1969), Who’s That Girl (1987), and Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989) were all commercial fiops. She had better luck playing the small part of Breathless Mahoney in Dick Tracy (1990), starring Warren Beatty, with whom she had a well-publicized romance. Tying into the film, she released the album  Breathless, featuring the single “Vogue.” Revered in the gay community, Madonna introduced mainstream America to “voguing,” a dance involving posing like a fashion model that was popular in gay clubs in the mid-1980s.

Also in 1990, Madonna released The Immaculate Collection, a greatest hits album. It featured several new songs, including “Justify My Love.” Because of its suggestions of voyeurism, bisexuality, and group sex, its video was banned from play on MTV before 11 o’clock at night. The resulting publicity helped sell some 250,000 copies of the “Justify My Love” videotape and propelled The Immaculate Collection to number one. Madonna also delighted her fans with Truth or Dare (1991), a documentary film she commissioned about her “Blond Ambition” world tour. Presenting Madonna as every inch a star, the film contained Beatty’s memorable assessment of the melding of her life and art: “She doesn’t want to live off camera.”

In 1992, Madonna signed a seven-year, $60 million contract with Time Warner that gave her nearly total creative control over her recordings and films. It also gave her her own record label, Maverick. Unlike most vanity labels fronted by stars, it would become highly profitable, signing such artists as Alanis Morissette, Candlebox, and Me’Shell Ndegéocello. In the wake of her Time Warner deal, Madonna’s Sex (1992) was released. The $50 coffee table book contained photographs of a mostly nude Madonna acting out her sexual fantasies. Though condemned as an attention-getting stunt by her critics, the book’s first run sold out quickly.

Her album Erotica (1992), however, was a disappointment, suggesting to some in the music industry that Madonna’s popularity was fading. Her movie career provided further evidence. Though she appeared in a small role in the successful  A League of Their Own (1992), her star vehicle Body of Evidence (1993) was a disaster.

Perhaps sensing that she had gone too far, Madonna displayed a softer, more soulful sound on the album Bedtime Stories (1994). A year later, she released Something to Remember, a collection of her hit ballads. Hoping to finally establish herself as a movie draw, she also lobbied hard for the role of Eva Perón in the musical Evita. Although the movie received a lukewarm response from critics and audiences, it helped to establish Madonna as a credible actress.

During the filming, Madonna became pregnant by her boyfriend and personal trainer, Carlos Leon. On October 14, 1996, she gave birth to Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon and later described the experience to People magazine as “the greatest miracle of my life.” In addition to motherhood, Madonna publicly embraced the Jewish kabbalah and Far Eastern religions and culture. She showcased her new spiritual side on Ray of Light (1998), which many critics consider her best album.

Madonna had another success with her next album, Music (2000), which marked a return to the playful dance songs that had made her a star. A month before its release, she had her second child,Rocco. Madonna married Rocco’s father, British film director Guy Ritchie, in December 2000. The following year, her Drowned World tour—the first tour since 1993—sold out across Europe and the United States.

In an MTV interview, Madonna once said, “The whole reason I got into show business wasn’t because I thought I had a spectacular voice. It was because I thought I had something to say.” Since her early days as a performer, the public has been listening. A worldwide sensation for more than two decades, Madonna now has generations of fans who consider her the last word on what’s next in popular culture.


Releases (from oldest to newest):
    Everybody (Single, Maxi) < (11 versions)
    Borderline (Maxi, Single) < (14 versions)
    Burning Up / Physical Attraction (Maxi, Single) < (8 versions)
    Holiday (Maxi, Single) < (24 versions)
    Lucky Star (Maxi, Single) < (9 versions)
    Madonna (Album) < (29 versions)
    Angel (Maxi, Single) < (14 versions)
    Like A Virgin (Album) < (39 versions)
    Like A Virgin (Maxi, Single) < (16 versions)
    Like A Virgin & Other Big Hits (Maxi, EP) < (6 versions)
    Madonna (Comp) < (3 versions)
    Material Girl (Single, Maxi) < (20 versions)
    Crazy For You (Maxi, Single) < (17 versions)
    Dress You Up (Maxi, Single) < (20 versions)
    Gambler (Single, Maxi) < (11 versions)
    Into The Groove (Single, Maxi) < (14 versions)
    Madonna Mix (12", Mixed)
    Over And Over / Borderline (12")
    The First Album (Album) < (7 versions)
    The Virgin Tour Live < (3 versions)
    Cosmic Climb (Maxi) < (9 versions)
    La Isla Bonita (Maxi, Single) < (20 versions)
    Live To Tell (Single, Maxi) < (18 versions)
    Lucky Star/Like A Virgin (7", RE, Single)
    Open Your Heart (Maxi, Single) < (13 versions)
    Over And Over (7")
    Papa Don't Preach (Maxi, Single) < (26 versions)
    True Blue (Album) < (44 versions)
    True Blue (Maxi, Single, EP) < (20 versions)
    Causing A Commotion (Maxi, Single) < (15 versions)
    In The Beginning (EP) < (3 versions)
    Into The Groove / Everybody (12", Promo)
    It's That Girl (Cass, Promo)
    Non Si Nasce Mai Una Volta Sola / Causing A Commotion (7", Single)
    The Look Of Love (Maxi, Single) < (8 versions)
    True Blue Super Club Mix (Cass, EP)
    Where's The Party / Spotlight (12", Promo)
    Who's That Girl (Maxi, Single) < (18 versions)
    Wild Dancing (12")
    You Can Dance (Album) < (25 versions)
    Ciao Italia: Live From Italy < (5 versions)
    Spotlight < (2 versions)
    Cherish (Maxi, Single) < (16 versions)
    Dear Jessie (Single, Maxi) < (8 versions)
    Express Yourself (Maxi, Single) < (17 versions)
    Into The Groove (Cass, Single, Car)
    Into The Groove / Who's That Girl / Causing A Commotion (Maxi) < (2 versions)
    Keep It Together (Maxi, Single) < (12 versions)
    Like A Prayer (Album) < (29 versions)
    Like A Prayer (Maxi, Single) < (24 versions)
    Like A Prayer/Oh Father (Cass, Single)
    Lucky Star / Borderline (Maxi) < (2 versions)
    Oh Father (Maxi, Single) < (9 versions)
    On The Street (Maxi) < (3 versions)
    Pray For Spanish Eyes (7", Promo)
    Remixed Prayers (MiniAlbum) < (3 versions)
    The Early Years (Comp) < (2 versions)
    Time To Dance (Maxi) < (3 versions)
    Blond Ambition World Tour Live < (4 versions)
    Hanky Panky (Maxi, Single) < (18 versions)
    I'm Breathless - Music From And Inspired By The Film "Dick Tracy" (Album) < (20 versions)
    Into The Groove / Dress You Up (CD, Single)
    Justify My Love (Maxi, Single) < (29 versions)
    Justify My Love / Vogue (From MTV's Video Music Awards) (Comp) < (2 versions)
    Rescue Me (Maxi, Single) < (23 versions)
    Shake < (2 versions)
    The Immaculate Collection (Album, Comp) < (36 versions)
    The QSound Experience (Excerpts From Madonna's Immaculate Collection) (CD, Single, Promo)
    The Royal Box (CD + VHS + Box)
    The Very Best Of Madonna (Comp) < (3 versions)
    Vogue (Maxi, Single) < (27 versions)
    Get Down < (2 versions)
    Give It To Me < (3 versions)
    The Holiday Collection (Maxi) < (2 versions)
    Bad Girl (Maxi, Single) < (15 versions)
    Cosmic Climb (Album) < (2 versions)
    Deeper And Deeper (Maxi, Single, EP) < (20 versions)
    Erotica (Maxi, Single) < (28 versions)
    Erotica (Album) < (21 versions)
    Fever (Maxi, Single) < (6 versions)
    Rain (Maxi, Single) < (17 versions)
    Shine A Light (Single) < (3 versions)
    This Used To Be My Playground (Single) < (10 versions)
    Wild Dancing (Album) < (2 versions)
    Bye Bye Baby (Maxi) < (6 versions)
    Deeper And Deeper EP (Maxi, EP) < (3 versions)
    Fever / Rain (2x12")
    Rain (Cass, Single, Car)
    Rain EP (EP) < (2 versions)
    The Best Of & The Rest Of - Volume 2 (CD, Album)
    The Girlie Show - Live Down Under < (5 versions)
    Toy Boy (CD, P/Mixed)
    Wild Dancing (CD, Maxi)
    Bedtime Stories (Album) < (17 versions)
    Bedtime Story (Maxi, Single) < (22 versions)
    Favourite Mixes No. 1 (CD)
    I'll Remember (Maxi, Single) < (14 versions)
    Secret (Maxi, Single) < (21 versions)
    Take A Bow (Maxi, Single) < (20 versions)
    The Girlie Show (CD, Maxi)
    Human Nature (Maxi, Single) < (23 versions)
    La Isla Bonita / Human Nature (CD, Mini)
    One More Chance (Maxi, Single) < (5 versions)
    Something To Remember (Comp, Album) < (23 versions)
    Wild Dancing (Album) < (3 versions)
    You'll See (Maxi, Single) < (17 versions)
    Buenos Aires (Maxi, Single) < (4 versions)
    CD Single Collection (40xCD, Mini, Single + Box, Ltd)
    Don't Cry For Me Argentina (Maxi, Single) < (19 versions)
    Love Don't Live Here Anymore (Single, Maxi) < (11 versions)
    Pre-Madonna (1980-´81 New York City - Unauthorized) (Album) < (2 versions)
    Wild Dancing (CD, Shape, Ltd)
    Wow! (CD, Shape, Ltd)
    You Must Love Me (Maxi, Single) < (8 versions)
    Another Suitcase In Another Hall (Maxi, Single) < (4 versions)
    Drowned World / Substitute For Love (Maxi, Single) < (11 versions)
    Frozen (Single, Maxi) < (22 versions)
    Frozen / Take A Bow (7")
    Little Star (CD, Promo)
    Nothing Really Matters (Maxi, Single) < (30 versions)
    Ray Of Light (Maxi, Single) < (27 versions)
    Ray Of Light (Album) < (28 versions)
    Ray Of Light (Special Limited Edition) (VHS)
    The Power Of Good-Bye (Maxi, Single) < (19 versions)
    Words + Music (CD, Maxi, Promo)
    Beautiful Stranger (Maxi, Single) < (10 versions)
    The Video Collection 93:99 (Comp) < (6 versions)
    American Pie (Maxi, Single) < (20 versions)
    Best 'Music' (CD)
    Don't Tell Me (Maxi, Single) < (21 versions)
    GHV2 The Dance Remixes (3xLP, Promo)
    Impressive Instant < (3 versions)
    Music (Maxi, Single) < (41 versions)
    Music (Album) < (23 versions)
    Skin (CDr, TP)
    The Ultimate Collection (Comp) < (2 versions)
    Amazing (CD, Single, Promo)
    Don't Tell Me (CDr, Promo, clo)
    Drowned World Tour 2001 < (3 versions)
    Early Years (CD)
    GHV2 (Album, Comp) < (19 versions)
    GHV2 < (4 versions)
    GHV2 Remixed (The Best Of 1991-2001) (2xCD, Promo)
    Lo Que Siente La Mujer (CD, Single, Promo)
    Music (Dan-O-Rama Remix) (VHS, PAL, Pro)
    Ray Of Light / Beautiful Stranger (7")
    Thunderpuss GHV2 Megamix (Maxi) < (5 versions)
    What It Feels Like For A Girl (Maxi, Single) < (23 versions)
    2 CD Hit Collection (Erotica / Madonna) (CD, Album + CD, Album, RM + , RE)
    Die Another Day (Maxi, Single) < (25 versions)
    Die Another Day - Music From The Motion Picture < (6 versions)
    True Blue / Like A Virgin (Coffret 2 CD Originaux) (Box + 2xCD, Album)
    A New Groove. A New Jean (Into The Hollywood Groove) (CD, Single, Promo)
    American Life (Maxi, Single) < (24 versions)
    American Life (Album) < (19 versions)
    Hollywood (Maxi, Single) < (25 versions)
    Into The Hollywood Groove (CDr, Single, Promo)
    Love Profusion (Maxi) < (14 versions)
    Me Against The Music (Maxi, Single) < (12 versions)
    Nobody Knows Me (Remixes) (12", Promo)
    Nothing Fails (Maxi) < (11 versions)
    Remixed & Revisited (EP, Maxi) < (7 versions)
    Un Nouveau Groove. Un Nouveau Jean. (Into The Hollywood Groove) (CD, Single, Promo)
    House Music (Volume 1) (CD, Comp, Dig)
    House Music (Volume 2) (CD, Comp, Dig)
    Who's That Girl: Live In Japan (Mitsubishi Special) (DVD)
    2CD (American Life / Music) (2xCD, Album)
    3CD (American Life / Music / Ray Of Light) (3xCD, Album)
    Confessions On A Dance Floor (Album) < (19 versions)
    Dance To The Beat (CD)
    Hung Up (Maxi, Single) < (21 versions)
    The Girlie Show in Japan (DVD-V, Dig)
    Confessions Remixed (3x12", Ltd)
    Get Together (Maxi, Single) < (16 versions)
    I'm Going To Tell You A Secret < (6 versions)
    Jump (Maxi, Single) < (15 versions)
    Sorry (Maxi, Single) < (20 versions)
    Hey You (File, MP3, 128)
    The Confessions Tour (Album) < (6 versions)
    4 Minutes (Single, Maxi) < (25 versions)
    4 Minutes / Give It 2 Me (2x7", Single, Whi)
    Give It 2 Me (Single, Maxi) < (21 versions)
    Hard Candy (Album) < (16 versions)
    Miles Away (Single, Maxi) < (16 versions)
    Celebration (Album, Comp) < (11 versions)
    Celebration (Single, Maxi) < (17 versions)
    Celebration - The Video Collection (Comp) < (5 versions)
    Revolver (One Love Remix) (CDr, Single, Promo)
    3 For One (The First Album / Like A Virgin / True Blue) (3xCD, Album)
    Classic Party Rockers Vol. 3 - The Madonna Edition (12")
    Golden Madonna (Cass, Comp)

Further Reading
Benson, Carol, and Allan Metz, eds. The Madonna Companion:  Two Decades of Commentary. New York: Schirmer Books, 1999.
Bego, Mark. Madonna: Blonde Ambition. Updated edition. New York: Cooper Square Press, 2000.

Recommended Recorded and Videotaped Performances
Evita (1996). Hollywood Pictures Home Video, DVD/VHS, 1998.
The Immaculate Collection (1991). Warner/Electra, DVD/VHS, 1991/1999.
The Immaculate Collection.Warner Brothers, CD, 1990.
Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991). Artisan Entertainment, DVD/VHS, 2000/2001.
Ray of Light.Warner Brother, CD, 1998.


HAYWORTH, RITA (Margarita Carmen Cansino, Rita Cansino) (1918–1987) Actress, Dancer

Dubbed the “American Sex Goddess” by  Time magazine, Rita Hayworth was one of the 1940s’ most popular film stars. Born Margarita Carmen Cansino on October 17, 1918, she was the daughter of a Spanish dancer in vaudeville and a Ziegfeld chorus girl. Hoping to break into movies, her father, Eduardo, moved the family from Brooklyn to Los Angeles when Margarita was nine. He found work teaching dance and staging film dance sequences until his adolescent daughter emerged as a great beauty. At 12, she left school to become Eduardo’s professional dance partner. Billed as the “Dancing Cansinos,” they performed as many as 20 shows a week.

Margarita soon drew the attention of Hollywood talent scouts. In 1934, a screen test won her a sixmonth contract with the Fox studio, which shortened her first name to Rita. She appeared as a dancer in one scene in Dante ’s Inferno (1935). Her other work for Fox was left on the cutting room fioor. Released from her contract, Rita Cansino put her career in the hands of Edward Judson, a shady businessman to whom she was married from 1937 to 1942. Judson found her freelance acting jobs in B movies until Columbia signed the starlet to a sevenyear contract. The studio re-created Cansino, positioning her as a glamour girl instead of as an “ethnic” actress as Fox had. To complete this transformation, they raised her hairline through electrolysis and christened her Rita Hayworth. (Her new surname was a variant spelling of her mother’s maiden name.) Hayworth, a shy woman whoconsidered herself a dancer with a fiair for comedy, was not wholly at ease with her new, sexier image.

At Columbia, Hayworth continued to be cast in forgettable low-budget films before appearing as the second female lead in Howard Hawks’s Only Angels Have Wings (1939). The role led to substantial parts in Blood and Sand and The Strawberry Blonde (both 1941). But she finally achieved stardom when cast as Fred Astaire’s dance partner in the musical You’ll Never Get Rich (1941). With its success, Hayworth performed in series of wartime musicals, playing a young, all-American beauty. The most notable included You Were Never Lovelier (1942), again costarring Fred Astaire, and Cover Girl (1944) with Gene Kelly. During  World War II, Hayworth was also famous for a photograph that appeared in the August 11, 1941, issue of Life magazine. Showing her facing the camera while kneeling in lingerie, the image became one of the most popular pin-ups of soldiers overseas. In a dubious tribute to Hayworth, the photograph was taped to a test atomic bomb dropped on the Bikini Atoll in 1946.

After the war, Hayworth found several of her best roles in films noir. In Gilda (1946), she was both smoldering and vulnerable in the title role. In perhaps her most indelible screen moment, she performed in the film a memorable striptease, pulling off long black gloves while singing “Put the Blame on Mame.” (As in most of her films, her singing voice was dubbed.) The sexy image of Gilda haunted Hayworth’s personal life. She was famously quoted as saying, “Every man I’ve known has fallen in love with Gilda and wakened with me.”Hayworth cut her trademark red hair and dyed it blond to play another femme fatale in The Lady from Shanghai (1948). The film’s director was the acclaimed Orson Welles, who became Hayworth’s second husband in 1943 and the father of her daughter Barbara. Called “the beauty and the brain” by the press, they were one of Hollywood’s most sensational couples until she divorced Welles soon after their one film together was completed. Of the marriage’s failure, she once said, “I just can’t take his genius anymore.”

The year before her divorce, Hayworth took a vacation to Europe, where she met Prince Aly Khan. Although both were married at the time, they began a public romance. The tabloid coverage on the couple made Hayworth an international celebrity. Their marriage in May 1949 and the birth of their daughter, Yasmin, seven months later were also widely reported. Like all of Hayworth’s marriages, this union did not last long, probably because of Aly’s philandering. They were divorced in 1953. In 1951, Hayworth returned to Hollywood after a three-year absence. She had successes with films such as Affair in Trinidad (1952), Pal Joey (1957), and Separate Tables (1958), but she was unable to revive the popularity she had achieved during the 1940s. Even worse for Hayworth, she weathered two disastrous, violent marriagesthe first to singer Dick Haymes (1953–55), the second to  Separate Tables producer James Hill (1958–1961).

In 1962, Hayworth tried to boost her failing career by appearing in Step on a Crack on Broadway. However, the show was canceled because of the star’s inability to memorize her lines and her increasingly violent mood swings and emotional outbursts. Rumors spread that Hayworth had become an out-of-control alcoholic. Still, she continued to find some film work, although primarily in Europe. Hayworth made her last film, a western titled The Wrath of God, in 1972. With her mental condition deteriorating steadily, the underlying cause of Hayworth’s instability was finally discovered when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the early 1980s. In her final years, she was cared for by her daughter Yasmin, who became a leading advocate for Alzheimer’s research. Hayworth died at her home in New York City on May 14, 1987.

Further Reading
Leaming, Barbara.  If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth. New York: Viking, 1989.
Ringgold, Gene. The Films of Rita Hayworth. Seacaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1991.

Recommended Recorded and Videotaped Performances
Gilda (1946). Columbia/Tristar, DVD, 2000.
The Lady From Shanghai (1948). Columbia/Tristar, DVD/VHS, 2000/1992.
Separate Tables (1958). MGM/UA, VHS, 1999.
You Were Never Lovelier (1942). Columbia/Tristar, VHS, 1992.

SHIRLEY TEMPLE (Shirley Jane Temple Black)

TEMPLE, SHIRLEY (Shirley Jane Temple Black) (1928– ) Actress, Singer, Dancer

The most successful child performer in Hollywood history, Shirley Jane  Temple was born in Santa Monica, California, on April 23, 1928. Determined to make Shirley a star, her mother enrolled her in dance lessons when she was three. Two years later, Shirley was signed to a contract with a small movie studio, Educational Pictures. She sang and danced in two series of shorts, Baby Burlesks and rolics of Youth. Temple later remembered how her mother, before each take, would yell “Sparkle!” as “a code word meaning concentrate.”Shirley’s early efforts earned her contract with Fox paying $150 a week. In 1934, she was cast in Carolina, the first of eight features she would film that year. Among them was Stand Up and Cheer, in which she stole the picture singing and dancing to “Baby Takes a Bow.” Its popularity led to  Little Miss Marker, her first starring role. Also in 1934, she sang her signature song, “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” in Bright Eyes and danced possibly her most famous routine with veteran tapper Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in The Little Colonel. Filmgoers immediately embraced Shirley Temple as their favorite star. In the desperate years of the Great Depression, the cute and confident Temple became an icon, whose constant cheeriness inspired a comforting optimism that better times were ahead. In many of her films, her character’s simple wisdom helped the adults around her deal with their problems. This formula earned Temple the nickname “Little Miss Fix-It” from movie industry insiders.

Temple’s costars inevitably admired, however begrudgingly, her astounding professionalism. Though only five years old when she was thrust into movie stardom, she was able to master complex song-and-dance routines far faster than most of her adult partners. An amazingly quick study, she also memorized not only her own lines but all the other actors’ as well. Actress Alice Faye once recalled, “She knew everyone’s dialogue. If you forgot a line, she gave it to you. We all hated her for that.”Only a year after her feature debut, Temple won a special miniature-sized Oscar for her “outstanding contribution to screen entertainment.” Her studio, which had merged with Twentieth Century, also appreciated her outstanding contribution to its bottom line. The $30 million Temple’s pictures earned for Twentieth Century-Fox kept the fiedging studio afioat.

As the number-one box-office star between 1935 and 1938, Temple received a salary of $10,000 a week. She earned even more from a series of lucrative endorsements. Merchandise featuring her likeness became a significant industry. Nearly every little American girl in the late 1930s had a Shirley Temple doll or coloring book. Wanting to cash in on the Shirley Temple phenomenon, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) tried to convince Twentieth Century-Fox to loan out its greatest star for MGM’s musical extravaganza The Wizard of Oz (1939). When Temple’s studio refused, MGM had to settle for the up-and-coming  JUDY GARLAND instead. Few could see then that as Garland’s star rose, Temple’s would quickly fall. In 1940, she starred in her own musical fantasy, The Blue Bird, which proved to be her first substantial box-office failure.

As Temple moved into her teens, she tried to reconnect with her audience, who seemed to lose interest in her as she aged. She appeared in 15 films during the 1940s, but as a minor player rather than a star. Temple also struggled in her personal life. In 1945, she married John Agar, who subsequently became a film actor. They had one child, Susan, before his heavy drinking led them to divorce in 1950. The same year, Temple met and married California businessman Charles Black and retired from the movie business.

Now calling herself Shirley Temple Black, she moved with her husband to San Francisco, where they raised Susan and two children of their own, Charles and Lori. Black largely stayed out of the public eye until 1967 when she ran for Congress as a Republican. Although she was defeated in the primary, her political aspirations caught the attention of President Richard Nixon, who appointed her a United Nations representative. Widely respected for her intelligence, grace, and composure, Black later served as the ambassador to Ghana (1974–76) and Czechoslovakia (1989–92). Despite her distinguished diplomatic career, Shirley Temple Black is still remembered by many as the smiling, curly-haired five-year-old beloved by millions of Americans during one of the country’s darkest periods. Although she has not appeared on film for 50 years, she continues to receive hundreds of fan letters a week.

Further Reading
Black, Shirley Temple. Child Star: An Autobiography. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988.
Edwards, Anne.  Shirley Temple: American Princess. New York: William Morrow, 1988.
Hammontree, Patsy Guy. Shirley Temple Black: A Bio-Bibliography.Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Recommended Recorded and Videotaped Performances
The Little Colonel (1935). Twentieth Century-Fox, VHS, 1988.
Little Miss Marker (1934). Universal, VHS, 1996.
Stand Up and Cheer (1934). Twentieth Century-Fox, VHS, 1989.
READ MORE - SHIRLEY TEMPLE (Shirley Jane Temple Black)


VERDON, GWEN (Gwyneth Evelyn Verdon) (1925–2000) Dancer, Actress, Singer, Choreographer

The definitive Broadway dancer of the 20th century, Gwyneth Evelyn Verdon was born on January 13, 1925, in Culver City, California. A childhood case of rickets left her legs deformed. As therapy, her mother, a dancer with RUTH ST. DENIS’s Denishawn troupe, enrolled her in dance classes when she was only two. Gwen studied a wide range of dance styles, including ballet, ballroom dancing, and tap. By age six, she was a professional dancer, often billed as “the fastest little tapper in the world.” With fiaming red hair and alabaster skin, her beauty won her the Miss California title when she was 14. In 1941, Verdon eloped with James Henaghan, a  Hollywood Reporter journalist. After five years, they divorced, and she resumed her dance career. They had one child, James.

Verdon won a spot as an assistant to Jack Cole, a noted Hollywood dance coach. Under his direction, she made her Broadway debut in 1950 in Alive and Kicking, but the musical was a commercial failure. While working with Cole, she became the leading interpreter of his expressive, sometimes erotic dance style. She appeared as a specialty dancer in several films, including On the Riviera (1951) and Mississippi Gambler (1953), in which she choreographed her own movements. She was also hired to teach stars such as MARILYN MONROE and BETTY GRABLE how to move seductively on screen. Eager to get out from under Cole’s thumb, Verdon accepted an invitation from choreographer Michael Kidd to audition for his Broadway show Can-Can. Cast as the second female lead, she stole the show during its tryouts. The show’s jealous lead, the French actress Lilo, insisted Verdon’s role be cut back. Verdon was so annoyed that she announced that she would soon be leaving the production. The night  Can-Can premiered on Broadway, however, Verdon became an instant star. After she performed her first number, she rushed to her dressing room for a costume change. She did not hear the audience chanting her name until a producer brought Verdon, wearing her bathrobe, back onstage for a curtain call. After winning her first Tony for  Can-Can, Verdon became the hottest dancer in musical theater.

Her next show was Damn Yankees, the story of a baseball fan willing to sell his soul to see his favorite team win. Verdon appeared as Lola, the devil’s helper, and performed a memorably seductive dance to the song “Whatever Lola Wants.”The musical ran for more than 1,000 performances and won Verdon a second Tony Award. Verdon also starred in the film adaptation in 1958. Damn Yankees marked the beginning of her collaboration with choreographer Bob Fosse. They worked together on New Girl in Town (1957) and Redhead (1959), for which Verdon was awarded two more Tonys. In 1960, she and Fosse were married. After the birth of their daughter, Nicole, in 1963, Verdon briefiy retired from show business. In 1966, she was lured back to star in Sweet Charity, a musical about a dance-hall girl that was directed and choreographed by her husband. Exhausted by its long run,  Verdon surrendered the lead to Helen Gallagher before the show’s close.

Shirley MacLaine took over the part for the 1969 film version, though Verdon generously coached her for it. In 1971, Verdon and Fosse were legally separated, though they never divorced. They continued their working relationship, most notably in Verdon’s last musical, Chicago (1975). Verdon originated the role of Roxie Hart, a gold digger acquitted of shooting her lover. Audiences considered the show too dark and cynical in its first run, though it was revived to great acclaim in 1996. Her dancing days over, Verdon began taking straight acting roles in the 1980s. She appeared in small parts in several films, among them Cocoon (1985) and Marvin’s Room (1996). Verdon also was a guest on many television series including Magnum, P .I. and Homicide. Her television work won her three Emmy nominations. After Fosse’s death in 1987, Verdon emerged as a guardian of his artistic legacy. In 1999, she collaborated with dancer Ann Reinking—Fosse’s former lover—on the dance revue Fosse, which was awarded a Tony for best musical. The following year, Gwen Verdon died on October 18 at her daughter’s home in Woodstock, New York. That night, the lights of Broadway were dimmed in her memory.

Further Reading
Berkvist, Robert. “Gwen Verdon, Redhead Who High Kicked Her Way to Stardom, Dies at 75.” The New York Times, October 19, 2000, p. 21.
Grubb, Kevin Boyd. Razzle Dazzle: The Life and Work of Bob Fosse. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989.

Recommended Recorded and Videotaped Performances
Damn Yankees (1958). Warner Home Video, VHS, 1991.


 THARP, TWYLA (1942– ) Dancer, Choreographer

In the words of critic Arlene Croce, the innovative dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp “swept away the ideological dividing line between ‘classical’ and ‘modern’ and ‘pop.’” The eldest of four children, Twyla was born in rural Portland, Illinois, on July 1, 1942. Her mother, an aspiring concert pianist, gave her daughter her unusual name because she thought it would look good on a marquee. When Twyla was eight, the Tharps moved to Rialto, California, where her father built and operated a drive-in theater. He also constructed the family home, which included a room equipped with a dance fioor and ballet barre. Blessed with perfect pitch, Twyla started taking piano lessons from her mother before she was two. She later added classes in social dance, ballet, violin, drums, and baton. By negotiating a highly demanding schedule of lessons, she developed an impressive self-discipline that characterized her adult career. After high school, Tharp entered Pomona College in California, intending to become a psychiatrist. Three semesters later, she transferred to New York City’s Barnard College with the new goal of becoming a dancer. While majoring in art history at Barnard, Tharp studied ballet at the American Ballet Theater (ABT) and modern dance with MARTHA GRAHAM, Merce Cunningham, and Erick Hawkins. While in college, she married fellow student Peter Young. This marriage and a second one to artist Bob Huot ended in divorce. Jesse, her son by Huot, was born in 1971.

Graduating in 1963, Tharp joined the Paul Taylor Company, but her ambition and independence moved her to quit in order to form her own troupe the next year. Initially an all-woman company, the troupe appeared primarily in nontheater spaces, such as gyms, museums, and parks. In keeping with the avant-garde currents of the day, Tharp’s dances tended toward minimalism in movement and in stage design. The pinnacle of her minimalist stage was Fugue (1970). The piece was performed without music, though its three dancers wore high-heeled boots equipped with microphones to create their own accompaniment. Critics saw a new warmth and wit in Tharp’s Eight Jelly Rolls (1971), during which her dancers wore backless tuxedos while moving to the music of early jazz great Jelly Roll Morton. Tharp also played with music in  The Bix Pieces (1971). Though Tharp choreographed the work to Franz Joseph Haydn’s Opus 76, it was performed to the jazz of Bix Beiderbecke. Tharp’s breakthrough work,  Deuce Coupe (1973), was also a hallmark in modern dance history. Commissioned by the Joffrey Ballet, it was performed to 14 songs by the Beach Boys in front of a set painted anew before each performance by teenage graffiti artists. The choreography—an eclectic mix of movements from ballet, Graham technique, popular dances, tap, and jazz—was performed by dancers from the Joffrey and from Tharp’s own company. One critic called it “a dialogue between American ballet and American Bandstand, which makes both seem more wonderful for the comparison.”

The enormous success of  Deuce Coupe made Tharp modern dance’ s most popular choreographer to “cross over,” that is, to work in both classical and modern styles. She choreographed As Time Goes By (1973) for the Joffrey and then created five works for the ABT. There, she worked with dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, with whom she developed a close professional and personal relationship. With him in mind, she choreographed  Push Comes to Shove (1976), which dramatized the tensions between a ballet company and its star dancer. Other notable works by Tharp include  Brahms-Handel (1984) for the New York City Ballet and Rules of the Game (1989) for the Paris Opera Ballet. Always fascinated by film since working at her parents’ drive-in, Tharp also welcomed movie and television projects. She choreographed dance sequences in three films directed by Milos FormanHair (1979),  Ragtime (1980), and  Amadeus (1984)—and created a dance number for Baryshnikov and tap dancer Gregory Hines in White Nights (1985). Tharp and her works have also been the subject of several television specials, most notably Making Television Dance (1977),  Baryshnikov by Tharp (1985), and Twyla Tharp: Oppositions (1996). Tharp’s interest in narrative has also led her to work on creating evening-long theater pieces. In both When We Were Very Young (1980) and The Catherine Wheel (1981), she told the story of chaotic, dysfunctional families. In 1985, on Broadway, she created choreography for Singing in the Rain—a stage adaptation of the classic 1952 movie musical Singin’ in the Rain. The result was slammed by critics, though audience demand kept the show running for a year.

Stung by the bad reception of  Singing in the Rain, Tharp’s company lost some of its central members. This problem, combined with Tharp’s weariness with continual fund-raising, led her to disband the group in 1988. The same year, she joined Baryshnikov at the ABT, where she served as an artistic associate. When Baryshnikov left the company a year later, Tharp followed suit. Tharp has since toured frequently, putting ogether temporary troupes of talented young dancers. In addition to choreographing new works for the ABT, New York City Ballet, and the Boston Ballet, she wrote her autobiography, Push Comes to Shove (1992). For the new energy she brought to both classical ballet and modern dance, Tharp was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 1992. In 1997, she was made an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Throughout the 1990s, Tharp was in demand as a freelance choreographer. Among the companies she created dances for were the Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the Martha Graham Dance Company, and the American Ballet Theater. She formed a new company, the Twyla Tharp Dance company, in 2000 and began developing a dance school in Brooklyn, New York. In 2001, Tharp explained that she now wants to work with only “great” dancers, defining greatness as “ambition, sweetness, personableness . . . I mean there’s something absolutely connected, a commitment that goes beyond sincerity. English does not supply the right descriptions for greatness—you just feel it.”

Further Reading
Rogosin, Elinor.  The Dance Makers: Conversations with American Choreographers. New York: Walker, 1980.
Tharp, Twyla.  Push Comes to Shove. New York: Bantam, 1992.

Recommended Recorded and Videotaped Performances
Baryshnikov Dances Sinatra & More . . . (1984). Kultur Video, VHS, 1991.
The Catherine Wheel (1982). Elektra/Asylum, VHS, 1992.
Hair (1979). MGM Home Entertainment, DVD/VHS, 1999/2000.