Biography of Bob Fosse (1925-1987)

Bob Fosse.

Director, actor, and choreographer of American cinema, born on June 23, 1927 in Chicago and died in Washington on September 23, 1987.


Coming from a family of artists from vaudeville, it began on the stage as an actor when he/she was only a child. With eighteen years already was dedicated professionally to dance at New York venues. As in a booklet of Broadway, he/she married a dancer, Mary Ann Niles, and formed a pair with her in musicals for nightclubs, waiting to be discovered by a businessman. Very soon would reach the goal that was looking for since I saw films of Fred Astaire in his childhood: dancing in the Broadway musicals.

The natural leap to Hollywood occurred in 1952, when he/she hired the Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Throughout the 1950s he/she participated in half a dozen films as an actor and choreographer. To this period belongs to my sister Elena, a musical comedy written by Blake Edwards and directed by Richard Quine. His main achievement in this film, as head of the choreography, is bringing together dance numbers to actors in the musical, as Betty Garrett, another little gifted to the acrobatic, Janet Leigh and Jack Lemmon. This circumstance would recur in almost all his films: combine authentic musical actors with other dramatic without endangering or plot development or the musical numbers.

While he/she worked with some regularity in the film, he/she never stopped its main activity, namely, musical performances at the theatre. In fact, many of his films were previously hits of Broadway, as for example The pajama game, a musical which prepared jointly with Jerome Robbins to the scene, and that would also do the choreography for the film version, directed by Stanley Donen (the set of pajamas, 1957).

When Bob Fosse was introduced in the direction, at the end of the sixties, the conception of the classic Hollywood musical already had almost completely disappeared. It was an exponent of this classicism as Bob Fosse, who contributed decisively to its renewal. His first feature film, nights of the city, shows a break with themes, treatment and characters of the 1950s musical. Appears already recurrent heartburn that deals with his films, in contrast with the syrupy liquid coating of the genre in earlier decades. Nights of the city, a free version of the nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini, presents to a prostitute who makes a night tour of love and friendship, always with a cynical and disillusioned look. As cynical as the use that makes the own resources of the musical genre, which used to offer a visual spectacle which, however, is the exaggeration of caricature.

Cabaret, his next film, is a modern musical in the thematic renewal of the genre. Much more contained than his previous work, it was the consecration of Fosse as director, and earned him one of the eight Oscar, for Best Director, which was awarded the film. The story of Cabaret is articulated in two parallel worlds. On the one hand the real world, where the nazis were the owners of the situation, and on the other the stage of the "Kit Kat Klub" where everything is beautiful, "even the Orchestra is beautiful." This fantasy/reality axis acts as an object and its image in a mirror. A distorted image, which happens at the cabaret, which serves as a synthesis to the strings out of it. How, for example, when the protagonist falls in love with is a noble rich and, in the next scene, he/she sings "Money, Money" at the club. In this sense, the master of ceremonies, a splendid Joel Grey, becomes a sort of cynical and sarcastic Narrator.

After Cabaret, both box office and critical success, Fosse temporarily leaves the musical to go Lenny. Perhaps to demonstrate or prove that he/she could go all kinds of film and pressed by the responsibility of the work subsequent to the successful, tried with Lenny make an austere and personal product. Shot in black and white and with long sequences of a single character on a bare stage, is the antithesis of what had been his films until then. The simple staging underlines the monologues of Dustin Hoffman in his recreation of the showman Lenny Bruce, comedian iconoclast and soundly critic. But this formal parentheses begins and ends with Lenny. His next film, Showtime, after five years without directing film, retrieves the style that had marked her first film and get the Golden Palm of the Cannes Festival of 1980. It is again a musical with large numbers of dance, where Fosse moves in its natural element, and which develops, as the rest of his films, around the world of the scene.

Decided to switch the music with other genres, his next and final film was Star 80, over the life of the fledgling actress Dorothy Straton, girl "Playboy" before moving on to film. On this occasion, Fosse squandered the opportunity to tell what they knew best: the making of a star. Instead, focuses on the progressive insanity of her husband, thus making a film centrifugal on the world of cinema, when his career was just the opposite.

Not in vain Bob Fosse is a man of the show that has the usual little merit to have won the three most prestigious awards that seek those that are uploaded to a scenario: an Oscar, nine Tony de theatre and three Emmy.


As actor:1953: The affairs of Dobie Gillis; Kiss me, Kate; Three girls with suerte.1955: my sister Elena (and choreography). 1958: Damn Yankees (and choreography). 1974: the little Prince (and choreography). 1977: Thieves.

As director and coreografo:1957: (only choreography) Pajama Game. 1967: How to succeed in business without really trying (only choreography). 1969: nights of the ciudad.1972: Cabaret.1974: Lenny (address only). 1979: starts the show (and co-writer). 1984: Star 80.