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Musicals on Tap


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Tommy Rall---

 

*Thomas Edward "Tommy" Rall* (b. December 27, 1929, [Kansas City, Missouri|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_City,_Missouri|Kansas City, Missouri]) is an American [ballet dancer|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballet_dancer|Ballet dancer], [tap dancer|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tap_dancer|Tap dancer] and [acrobatic|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrobatic|Acrobatic] [dancer|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancer|Dancer] who was a prominent featured player in 1950s musical comedies. He later became a successful [operatic|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera|Opera] [tenor|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenor|Tenor] in the 1960s, making appearances with the [Opera Company of Boston|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera_Company_of_Boston|Opera Company of Boston], the [New York City Opera|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_Opera|New York City Opera], and the American National Opera Company.

 

 

Rall was raised in [seattle|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle|Seattle]. As a child he had a crossed eye which made it hard for him to read books, so his mother enrolled him in dancing classes. In his early years he performed a dance and acrobatic [vaudeville|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaudeville|Vaudeville] act in Seattle theaters, and attempted small acting roles.

 

 

His family moved to Los Angeles in the 1940s, and Rall began to appear in small movie roles. His first film appearance was a short MGM film called Vendetta. He began taking [tap dancing|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tap_dancing|Tap dancing] lessons and became a member of the jitterbugging Jivin’ Jacks and Jills at [universal Studios|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Studios|Universal Studios].

 

 

Rall joined [Donald O'Connor|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_O%27Connor|Donald O'Connor], [Peggy Ryan|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peggy_Ryan|Peggy Ryan] and [shirley Mills|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Mills|Shirley Mills] in several light wartime [Andrews Sisters|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrews_Sisters|Andrews Sisters] vehicles including Give Out Sisters, [Get Hep to Love|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Get_Hep_to_Love|Get Hep to Love], [Mister Big|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mister_Big_1943_film|Mister Big 1943 film], and others. He also appeared in the films [The North Star|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_North_Star_%281943_film%29|The North Star (1943 film)] and [song of Russia|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_of_Russia|Song of Russia].

 

 

Rall took ballet lessons and danced in classical and [broadway|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadway_theatre|Broadway theatre] stages ([Milk and Honey|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milk_and_Honey_%28musical%29|Milk and Honey (musical)], [Call Me Madam|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_Me_Madam|Call Me Madam] and [Cry for Us All|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cry_for_Us_All|Cry for Us All]). He is best-known for his acrobatic dancing in several classic musical films of the 1950s, including [Kiss Me Kate|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiss_Me_Kate_%28film%29|Kiss Me Kate (film)], [seven Brides for Seven Brothers|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Brides_for_Seven_Brothers_%28film%29|Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (film)], [invitation to the Dance|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invitation_to_the_Dance_%28film%29|Invitation to the Dance (film)], [Merry Andrew|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merry_Andrew_%28film%29|Merry Andrew (film)] and [My Sister Eileen|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Sister_Eileen_%281955_film%29|My Sister Eileen (1955 film)].

 

Rall's film career waned as movie musicals went into decline. He had a role in the movie [Funny Girl|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funny_Girl_%28film%29|Funny Girl (film)], as "The Prince" in a spoof of the [ballet|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballet|Ballet] [swan Lake|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swan_Lake|Swan Lake]. On [broadway|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadway_theatre|Broadway theatre] he danced to considerable acclaim as "Johnny" in [Marc Blitzstein|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Blitzstein|Marc Blitzstein] and [Joseph Stein|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Stein|Joseph Stein]'s 1959 musical, [Juno|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juno_%28musical%29|Juno (musical)] (based on [sean O'Casey|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_O%27Casey|Sean O'Casey]'s play [Juno and the Paycock|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juno_and_the_Paycock|Juno and the Paycock])

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You got it, muddy. Tommy Rall,in his later years, found out that a dance instructor in Texas had claimed to be Tommy Rall for years. Here's an article from just a few years ago.

 

 

It was a mystery novelist in Connecticut, [Carole B. Shmurak|http://www.sleuthedit.com/CaroleShmurak/CaroleShmurak.html], who outed the [Tommy Rall impersonator|http://www.geocities.com/crazyforcinema/bramefraud.html] in Texas. Shmurak, who writes the Susan Lombardi mystery series, had posted a mini-biography of Rall on the Internet Movie Data Base. Last fall, she received an e-mail from “a woman living outside of Houston who said her daughter was taking dancing lessons from a man who claimed he had danced in '50s movies under the name of Tommy Rall." The e-mail writer said she was growing suspicious of the man's claims.

 

 

Shmurak’s mystery-writer instincts kicked in. She wrote to the woman that Rall was living in California, not Texas, and was no longer dancing. She wondered if the dance teacher in Houston might be an impostor.

 

 

The woman who initially wrote to Shmurak wouldn’t give Carole the faux Rall’s “name.”

 

 

“She wouldn't give the name he was now using -- she said she didn't want to get him in trouble. But she did send me his photo and so-called credits,” Shmurak wrote. “The credits were wrong. He mentioned Seven Brides and Kiss Me, Kate but also Hello, Dolly and West Side Story.”

 

 

The real Tommy Rall hadn’t been in the latter two films. Shmurak wrote: “I was sure the man was a fraud, but I couldn't prove it -- and I was furious that this man was taking credit for Tommy Rall's work.”

 

 

Shmurak did eventually track down the Texas impostor – Houston dance instructor Ric Brame, who had been pretending to be the still-living Rall for three decades. After Shmurak outed the phony, Brame apologized to Rall. The real Rall declined to press charges. The phony Rall has, apparently, stopped adding the Rall credits to his biography.

 

 

 

 

 

So now we all know a bit more about Tommy Rall. I'm sure he's not the only celebrity to have been through this kind of identity theft. Good work, skipper. Welcome to the dancers in musicals thread. It your turn now.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks. Knew this one right off the bat, I've always loved Gene Nelson. Wish there had been more musicals made with him. Extremly talented and athletic.

 

This gal isn't thought of as a dancer and singer primarily. She started out at a young age in vaudeville took dance lessons and did appear in some musicals. In one film, which is not a musical but does have a musical dance number in it, she tapped and sang. It was a well known mystery movie. Later in life after her retirement from film she became an activist. She became very involved with a group of women who are known for their dancing. Can you name her?

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Lavender--I've got to give it to you. This is a hellava, pardon my french, question.

 

And I love this movie, so here I am.

 

Penny Singleton is known as "Blondie" to most people, but in the 30's she was going by her real name--Dorothy McNulty.

 

Billed as such, she was featured, singing and tap dancing, in *After The Thin Man*. And she wasn't bad either! She danced and sang "Blow that Horn!" and sang "Smoke Dreams", a song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. Freed, of course later became the greatest MGM Musical Producer.

 

Later, Penny's tap credentials took her to the AFL-CIO, where she was the 1st woman president. So, she was out there tapping on the picket line with Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.

 

God Bless Her!

 

Edited by: cujas on Nov 16, 2011 2:43 PM

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Thanks,cujas. I think most of my questions are good and thoughtful and so are yours. Wasn't she something, Penny Singleton. I remember the first time years ago when I realized it was her dancing and singing in *After The Thin Man*. Love to read bios about these intelligent, caring, talented people.

 

Good work and Thanks for the compliment,your thread, cujas

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Don't know if this dancer ever got any screen credit. But she must have been good because I've seen her featured--up front-- in "Merry Widow", "Singin' In the Rain" and "Kiss Me Kate".

 

Hint: Gee, they're all MGM musicals, n'est-ce pas?

 

Edited by: cujas on Nov 16, 2011 3:56 PM

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Yeah! Lavender, not at the same time--But there was a time that those 2 guys were almost operating as one.--But as you well know, that didn't last.

 

And of course, Jeanne Coyne was one of Gene Kelly's fabulous Assistant Choreographers.

 

Lav--it's all yours!

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*Anchors Aweigh* that's the film that Gene taught Frank to tap dance. He did a pretty good job. Although cujas you out there, one thing I do notice is that while of course Gene doesn't do it, Frank does look down at his feet every now and then, I think that's a no, no.

Good work, Franklin it's your thread.

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Near the end of his career, this famed tap dancer toured with a legendary singer. Both had appeared in MGM musicals.

 

This tap dancer created a dancing/singing musical character on Broadway that he did not get to recreate in the movies.

 

The dancer/singer/actor who did perform in the role was nominated for the Oscar but didn't win. He too was a legendary tap dancer.

 

Two taps and one singer--who are they?

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The legendary singer used this legendary tap dancer as her opening act for her shows near the end of her career.

 

Big Hint: both the singer and the tap dancer had appeared in MGM musicals that were directed by Vincente Minnelli.

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