Posts by Larry Billman

arts•meme contributor  Larry Billman is author of “Film Choreographers and Dance Directors” (McFarland) and bio-bibliographies about Fred Astaire and Betty Grable (Greenwood Press). He founded the Academy of Dance in Film, honoring the art of film dance and choreography. A former musical performer in Hollywood, Broadway, Las Vegas, and television, Larry led an esteemed career with Walt Disney as writer/director/producer of live entertainment at theme parks in the U.S., Germany and Japan.


Rita Hayworth to Jack Cole: You Excite Me

Dance · Featured · Film
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Clearly if Jack Cole excited Rita Hayworth, the feeling was mutual. The above beautiful, posed color still from Columbia Pictures’ marvelous wartime dance-filled musical, “Tonight and Every Night” (1945, chor: Jack Cole) captures “You Excite Me” — a wild rumba-rhythmed concoction Cole cooked for Hayworth. The photo features six of Rita’s dancing colleagues at Columbia ...

Jail bait from Hollywood choreographer Alex Romero

Dance · Film · Reviews
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A new book “The Man Who Made the Jailhouse Rock: Alex Romero, Hollywood Choreographer,” author, Mark Knowles, briefly reviewed: Alex Romero was one of the last of the Hollywood Studio staff choreographers who never received the attention or success he deserved. As if his life story is not remarkable enough, his talents were well known ...

Ivan Kirov, the dancing star of “Specter of the Rose”

Dance · Film
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“I’m no good. I’m just some muscles that can dance. The rest of me is rubbish — broken glass and rubbish.” So self-describes the lead character, Andre Sanine, of “Specter of the Rose” (1946, Republic Pictures). He’s mouthing writer-producer-director Ben Hecht’s lurid and kitsch-adjacent movie dialogue. Hecht created “Specter” in a couple of weeks, for ...

James Mitchell, who danced “Dream Curly” in OKLAHOMA! 1

Dance · Film
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We just lost Marc Platt, his strong dancer’s heart finally giving way, at age 100, on March 29, 2014. Platt originated the role of “Dream Curly,” a dancing doppleganger to the dramatic actor who plays the same role — the dancer picks up the plot line in choreographer Agnes deMille’s acclaimed “dream ballet” sequence created ...

“Oklahoma!” choreographer, Agnes deMille, appreciated 2

Dance · Film · Theater
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TCM Classic Film Festival 2014 opens Thursday April 10, 2014, with a screening of “Oklahoma!” at Grauman’s TCL Chinese Theatre. Shirley Jones, the film’s star, will be honored. Let’s learn about “Oklahoma!”‘s great choreographer who transferred groundbreaking stage choreography to the screen in 1955. AGNES (George) deMILLE b. Harlem, New York, Sept 18, 1905 d. ...

Fantastic Fanny Wolff — refashioned as Fanchon!

Dance · Film
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FANCHON (Fanny Wolf/Wolff later Simon) b. Los Angeles, California, USA, September 14, 1892 (or 1895) d. Los Angeles, California, USA, February, 1965 (Obit for Fanchon Simon) Legendary dance director, film and stage producer, writer, lyricist, costume designer and prolific producer of prologues in movie theaters (live productions in conjunction with films, also called “Ideas”) for ...

Meet Marc Platt, stage & screen dancer 2

Dance
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Born ‘Marcel Emile Gaston Leplat’ in Pasadena, California, on December 2, 1913, Marc Platt’s passion (and training) for classic dance started at an early age. The son of concert artists, he began studying dance with Mary Ann Welles in Seattle, at age 12, when after watching her class he declared: “I could do that.” They let him ...

Who was Sally Forrest? Let’s watch her dance. 2

Dance · Film
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Katherine Sally Feeney, the daughter of amateur ballroom dancing parents, was born on May 28, 1928. Her father, Michael Feeney, a U.S. Navy career man moved his family to various naval bases, finally settling in San Diego where little Sally was born and began dance classes with Marguerite Ellicott at the age of 12. “Miss ...

Matt (Harold Henry) Mattox, memorialized

Dance · Film · Theater
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MATT (Harold Henry) MATTOX b. Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, August 18, 1921 d. Perpignan, France, February 18, 2013 “I’ve never classified myself as a jazz teacher, I prefer to talk about ‘free-style dancing,’ which means I have a choice of movement for any piece of music,” said Mattox in a 1993 interview. To prepare for his ...

Jack Cole dancer George Martin dies 5

Dance · Film · Theater
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Sad news. One of the last living connections to Jack Cole and a key member of Cole’s great brigade of film and nightclub dancers, George Martin, died in Atlanta on April, 6, 2011, we learned yesterday from Dancers Over 40.  I met the Martins, George and Ethel, at a symposium on Cole last summer at ...