A fabulous YouTube find, a compendium of song-and-dance numbers performed by Betty Grable, in 1954, during a live television broadcast: the premier edition of Chrysler “Shower of Stars” on CBS. Opening the video is Grable in a sizzling demonstration of how song and dance were integrated during the period — in “Diga Do,” a specialty song. The credited choreographer for the show was Robert (Bob) Sidney and the associate director was Miriam Nelson. Both were important Hollywood choreographers.
Other Grable numbers on the video are “One For My Baby,” “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home” and “I’m Just Wild About Harry.” Which at the time she wasn’t. Grable and her husband, Harry James, were in the midst of marital squabbles fueled by alcohol. However, Betty was the headliner on “Shower Of Stars,” and James is featured on two of her songs.
The jungle beat of “Diga Diga Do,” its third-world theme, and many jazzy choreographic motifs evoke Jack Cole. Cole was close to Grable at the time and could surely have fashioned this rambunctious number for his friend. Alternately, Sidney may indeed have done the number, but good god it is heavily influenced by Cole.
It’s very difficult to pin down. I believe Jack Cole may have choreographed this number. There are so many Cole characteristics in it. The extreme tempo change at 01:22 alone is very characteristic of a Cole number. The little foot patter step that Grable and the chorines perform at 02:40 is Cole. This is not even to mention the half-naked men.
But it’s also very easy to just enjoy “Diga Diga Do” and leave the detective work to me. You can dig it So do!