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Dancer Bert May


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I guess it is a sign you've seen too many movie musicals when you begin to recognize a particular dancer in the chorus. But one guy has shown up in so many of them---ranging from the mid 1940's until the late sixties.

 

The dancer's name is Bert May and he seemed to specialize in especially wild movements... often with startling flexibility. He is a thin man, dark, perhaps Italian looking. The earliest film I have seen him in is ZIEGFELD FOLLIES (in the "Great Lady Gives an Interview" sequence) and the latest was HELLO DOLLY where he appears as one of the waiters in the title number.

 

According to IMBd he apparently is even in, god help us all, FUNNY LADY and AT LONG LAST LOVE. Among the better titles I have spotted him in are: THE PIRATE, SUMMERSTOCK ("Get Happy" number), THE BAND WAGON, GUYS AND DOLLS, IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER (the incredible "Thanks Alot but No Thanks" number), and LIL' ABNER--- and onward til the mid 70's. Almost 30 years to have been a professional dancer is pretty amazing. Also a search on Bert May gets a Judy Garland site (actually more than one) that shows him speaking at a tribute at Garland's hometown in 1997 where he is said to have been one of "Judy's boyfriends" in the old MGM musicals. There is also a mention of him on a Fred Astaire tv special.

 

Does anyone have any information about Mr. May? Looks to me like he might have had an amazing life.

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  • 10 months later...

WE have had contact with Bert. he is a character and when we last talked with him he was living in Souix Falls ,SD. He was considering moving to California. He had a great collection of Judy Garland things, so he may very well have been a favorite person in his life. I was thinking about him tonight and googled him. That's how I got to you. I am hoping he is well, we have not heard from him for awhile. If you know anything please respond.

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  • 1 year later...

 

BERT MAY

 

 

Hollywood Dancer

 

 

Bert May appeared as a Dancer in countless Hollywood Movie Musicals from the 1940’s onwards, mainly at MGM, but later in top Musicals at other studios.

 

 

I’m told that he started his career as an acrobat but later became a dancer.

 

 

He was certainly spectacularly acrobatic in many of his dancing appearances.

 

 

He appeared on Broadway as a dancer in Cole Porter’s “Can Can”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He did many short solo turns in musical ensemble dancing scenes and even had a featured speaking role and a dance number alongside Tommy Rall in MGM’s “Merry Andrew”

 

 

He danced and even occasionally sang along side some of Hollywood’s greatest ever Musical performers.

 

 

He has given us many hours of enjoyment and his presence and contribution to the Hollywood Musical deserves to be recognised and credited.

 

 

The Movie Database for Bert May desperately needs to be expanded and updated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a list of his appearances, which I suspect is not complete.

 

 

“Everything I Have Is Yours” – Dancer.

 

 

“Two Girls And A Sailor” – Soldier in Audience.

 

 

“Movie Pests” (Pete Smith Specialty) – Soldier in Cinema.

 

 

“The Barkley’s of Broadway” – Exits shop in Shoes With Wings On.

 

 

“Summer Stock” – Dancer in Get Happy number.

 

 

“The Strip” – Dancer.

 

 

“The Band Wagon” – Dancer plus one line of dialogue with Astaire. Curiously he appears and then totally disappears, replaced by another dancer and then mysteriously appears again in the Cyd Charisse classic ballet sequence.

 

 

“Hit The Deck” – Dancing Sailor.

 

 

“Till The Clouds Roll By” – Dancer in Title Number & Who sequence

 

 

“Ziegfeld Follies” – gets to sing a line and dance with Judy Garland.

 

 

“It’s Always Fair Weather” – Dancer and another case of appearing and disappearing during a dance with Cyd Charisse.

 

 

“Meet Me In Las Vegas” – Dancer.

 

 

“Merry Andrew” – Dancer alongside Tommy Rall and an actual non-credited featured role as a brother of Pier Angeli.

 

 

“Frankie And Johnny” – Dancer

 

 

“Bye Bye Birdie” –Dancer and gets a nice close up in Shriner Dance.

 

 

“Hello Dolly” – Dancer featured in nearly every ensemble dancing sequence. He’s Danny the waiter in the title number.

 

 

“Finian’s Rainbow” – Dancer who asks for Helicopter and is seen throughout.

 

 

“Funny Lady” – Straight comic role as Assistant Stage Manager.

 

 

“The Music Man” – Dancer and is prominent as a town’s person throughout the movie. Nice solo steps in title number.

 

 

“Guys And Dolls” – Dancer who does some great individual dance moves during the Luck Be A Lady number.

 

 

“Mary Poppins” – Dancing chimney sweep.

 

 

“The Happiest Millionaire” – Dancer.

 

 

“Easter Parade” – Dancer (watch Anne Miller almost knock his top hat off)

 

 

“Take Me Out To The Ball Game” - Dancer.

 

 

“Bedknobs And Broomsticks” – Dancer in Portobello Road number.

 

 

“California Suite” – credited as a porter but is nowhere to be seen.

 

 

“The Upside Down Man” (Episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show)

 

 

“The Toast Of New Orleans” – Dancer.

 

 

“Words And Music” – Dancer.

 

 

“The Thin Man Goes Home” – Gets to Jitterbug with Myrna Loy.

 

 

“The Pirate” – Dancer.

 

 

“On The Town” – Dancer in Miss Turnstiles number.

 

 

“Two Weeks With Love” – Dancer.

 

 

“The Opposite Sex” – Dancer.

 

 

“Li’l Abner” – Dancer

 

 

“Spreadin’ the Jam”- MGM Short Subject – Dancer.

 

 

“Blazing Saddles” – Dancer.

 

 

“At Long Last Love” – Dancer.

 

 

“Little Egypt” - Dancer

 

 

“The One And Only, Genuine, Original Family Band” – Dancer.

 

 

“Little Women”(Mervyn LeRoy version) – Dancer in outside dance sequence.

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Great to see Barbra Streisand singing directly to BERT MAY on the front cover of the up-coming UK edition Blu-Ray disc of "HELLO DOLLY!"

 

It is listed on UK sites for release on April 1 (2013).

I can't wait.

Dolly contains some of Bert's best work.

 

Does anybody know the name of the blonde male dancer who sometimes wears glasses.?

He is in "Hello Dolly" and also "The Music Man"

I also noticed him in one of the Disney musicals of the period. ( Maybe "The Happiest Millionaire")

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am Bert May's cousin. He was my mom's 1st cousin. My grandmother and Bert's Father were brother and sister. He is fine and lives in South Dakota. I just spoke with him not too long ago. We keep wanting him to move back to California. He should do an interview with Turner Classic Movies. He was in everything. His first role was in the Thin Man Comes Home with William Powell and Myrna Loy. He played a young sailor and dances with Myrna Loy in this film. Among many things he was in Fred Astaire's television specials that featured another dancer Barrie Chase. He was in films with Judy Garland and was in her stage shows. Our family saw that one at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. He was also a regular dancer every week on the Andy Williams Show. He also played the upside down man on the Dick Van Dyke Show. That can be seen on the internet. He was a featured dancer with Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando in the film Guys and Dolls. One of the many scenes he was in was in the Sewer where he danced to Luck be a Lady tonite with all his signature moves. He also was in another scene singing alongside Sinatra and all the cast singing Sit down your rocking the boat. from the Music Man to dancing with Barbra Streisand in Hello Dolly as one of the waiters to dancing with Jane Lleigh in the movie Bye Bye Birdie, he's done it all. Too many roles to mention. Oh another good one was The Bandwagon in his beautiful yellow sweater and directed by vincent minelli. He is mentioned by name by Liza Minelli in her narration of the disc The Bandwagon He is our beloved family member. Well, I could go on and on but will stop for now.

Thanks to all for thinking and of remembering our wonderful cousin Bert. Forgot to mention at his 80th Birthday celebration that took place in Las Vegas at my sister's home back in 2004 he danced for all our family. I , myself, remember as a teen back in 1968 dancing with him at my other cousin's wedding. What a thrill!

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

I had dinner with Bert May Friday, February 15th in Sioux Falls SD. Was so good to see him again. He is looking good.

 

 

He appeared in good spirts, however he has been having a litter difficulty with both lower legs (below the knee) and uses a walker on occasion. Especially on ice & snow. Quite a career!

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just caught a bit of GUYS AND DOLLS on TCM and decided to check on responses about Mr. May.

I am so glad that some of Bert's family has responded to this thread. He clearly had an amazing career. Please for his sake and all of us who love movie musicals, see that he gets to tell his story in some form, even just sit him down with a tape recorder and get him to talk. His career is pretty remarkable, not just for all the stars and great films he worked on, but for the simple longevity of his career as a dancer. I can't think of many dancers who had an active career for such a long span.

 

Please let Bert know that people want to hear from him. I hope he will stay well and be with us for many years to come.

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  • 7 years later...

It may have already been mentioned, in this thread, but Bert has a short close-up, with Jane Russell, in the “Is There Anyone Here For Love, “ number, in GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES.

I haven’t spotted him in any other part of this film, or even another shot from this musical number..

Bert May Jane Russell.jpg

Bert May Jane Russell crop.jpg

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  • 7 months later...
  • 2 months later...

I knew Bert while he was living in St. Paul. I was working at Dayton's, the department store downtown and he used to come in almost daily on his skyway walks. When he learned this was my crummy day job, and that I was a playwright/director/choreographer, he told me who he was. I was thrilled. I would watch movies to spot him. We talked about directors and choreographers, dissect performances, debate why I turned down a job at Columbia Pictures for live theater. We even occasionally tapped our way across the marble floor. I showed him my choreography from a production of MUSIC MAN I had done, and he showed me his. We even had industry friends in common. He was a delight.

I lost track of him after I left the department store,  and just learned that he passed away.

I simply adored the man.

May his memory forever be for a blessing.  It will be for me. 

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