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Musicals on Tap


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Hint--the classic tap musicals starred, obviously a Classic Movie star tap dancer like, Bojangles, Astaire, Ellie or Gene--helas, there weren't any others.

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I believe that Gene Kelly co-wrote "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" and "Invitation To The Dance". Is it him?

By the way, cujas, you wrote recently that you thought the "Shanhai Lil" number from "Footlight Parade" was the best tap number by a romantic couple. Now, I would never question your knowledge of tap dancing. I even learned from you that Cagney and Keeler were considered to be buck dancers, that is, self taught. However, to the untrained eye, Ruby Keeler always appeared to me to be somewhat less than graceful. Here is that number. You can judge for yourself.

 

 

[ |http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Izu29lNYP1Q]

 

 

[i|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Izu29lNYP1Q] think that Fred and Ellie, as you call them, were equally good, if not better, in the "Begin The Beguine" number in "Broadway Melody Of 1940". Here is that number.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSwDEp-XFGw&feature=related

 

Why not watch them both, back to back, and let us know what you think?

 

Edited by: MilesArcher on May 5, 2012 10:51 PM

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Astaire's favorite tap dancer was James Cagney. He had Cagney on the set for his legendary filming of the "Top Hat White Tie & Tails" number because he wanted to use him as a tap consultant.

 

Both Cagney and Keeler taught themselves to tap--they weren't ballet studio dancers. But their style was unique and indeed excellent. Tap dancers are judged by the sound of the taps, the rhythms and so forth, like any percussionists and they are also judged by the way they look in performance, like any dancer.

 

There are many tap styles--aside from Buck dancing--there is the Broadway Tap style of Astaire or Powell. There are as many tap styles as tap dancers.

 

I would refer you to study the differences in the technique of traditional Black Tap dancers, such as Bojangles, John Bubbles, Sammy Davis, Jr or Gregory Hines.

 

Also, consider the unique style of an eccentric dancer, such as Buddy Ebsen.

 

As Rod Serling wrote, Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder.

 

GETTING BACK to the question--Kelly is wrong because I specified

the co-script writer was a supporting actor who was featured in 2 classic tap musicals starring a top Movie Star Tap Dancer.

 

Hints 1 & 2:

 

But since you asked, Gene didn't star in the 2 films cited, but the movies are from MGM.

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To review--this character actor/comedian was co- writer on 2 top MGM tap musicals in the 30's, which he also appeared in as a comic support character. FYI, He didn't tap dance.

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Could it be comis actor Sid Silvers? He contributed to the story for both "Broadway Melody Of 1936" and "Born to Dance", which both starred Eleanor Powell. He also appeared in both of those movies. He also contributed to the other Broadway melody movies of 1938 and 1940, as well as to "The Wizard Of Oz", but he did not appear in any of those three pictures.

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I knew you'd come up with this one--I held on for it because the movie, *Born To Dance*, is so important in Tap Hollywood history.

 

Miles, it's time to Tap your troubles away with another Tap musical question--

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Well, I've been trying to stump cujas for some time with questions about tap dancers, and it hasn't happened yet, but if you think that Sid Silvers is a bit obscure, try this next one. There was a thirties musical that featured a man and woman who would go on the become television icons in the fifties. It also featured a young woman who would go on to have a very good movie career as a dancer and actress. There was a specialty number that featured a vaudeville act comprised of three men who tap danced. One was tall, one was short, and one was, well, normal size. They were somewhat unique, but not exceptionall dancers. As far as I know, it was their only feature film appearance. The movie also featured some popular radio stars of the day. Can you name the movie and the tap dancing team that faded into obscurity? By the way, I actually met one the dancers some years ago, well after his dancing career was over. As cujas would say, he had hung up the leather.

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Miles, I didn't go for obscurity with Sid Silvers--Ellie's "Born To Dance" and Melody of '36 are tres important to the history of tap.

 

What you came up with, while a bit bizarre, is certainly a legitimite "A" musical from the '30's. The NYTimes panned this dance trio in the movie's review--so that alone makes them bizarre:

 

"the point blank horror of such teams as The Slate Brothers, who should simply be wiped off".

 

NYT--review for Paramount 1938 "College Swing", starring Bob Hope and Burns & Allen--The 3 TV icons and an up and coming Dancer, Singer, Actress who became the WWII Pin-up Girl, Betty Grable.

 

Miles, I've never seen this opus, was it as bad as the Times review said.

 

You must tell me more about your meeting--I met one of The Step Bros in Vegas at a Red Fox show once.

 

Miles--am I right?

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Sorry, cujas, that's not the one. In the dance team that I referred to, the tall guy is very tall and the short guy is very short. The short guy would sometimes dance between the tall guy's legs. That's what made the team unique. The movie, however, was a bit of a flop. I'll give you a hint. The young lady who would become a big time dancer in forties and fifties films, played the granddaughter of Lionel Barrymore in an Oscar winning movie a year or so later. Give it another try!

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Well you know that Ann Miller is in the movie and it was made in the thirties. I guess it's time for another hint. The man who would go on to become a TV star would later joke that he and his rival in the TV time slot, Bishop Sheen, had the same sponsor, Sky Chief.

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One more hint. the woman who was the female lead in the movie was a singer and actress in the thirties and forties. She would go on to be known to millions as a TV mom in the fifties. If you can identify the movie, you should be able to find the specialty dance act.

 

I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge that Friday, May 25th, was National Tap Dance Day. It has been National Tap Dance Day since 1989. Now, this may mean about as much to some people as Arbor Day or National Pickle Day, but to someone like cujas, I'm sure that it is very meaningful. May 25th was chosen because it is the birthday of legendary dancer Bill "Bojangles"Robinson. Just google "National Tap Dance Day" to find out more about it.

 

 

So cujas, how did you celebrate? Did you dust off the old shoes and do a buck and wing around the kitchen? Perhaps you were part of a flash mob like the one in this clip:

 

 

 

 

 

Please let us know.

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I celebrated with the old time step...hop, shuffle, step, flap, ball, step. You will be surprised to hear I played Chinese stowaway John aboard the ocean liner in Anything Goes. Our director cast two females as the Chinese brothers. At our next audition, my cohort and I did We Enjoy being the Girls fom Flower Drum Song. I'll get back to work on your answer. I never knew there was a tap dance day...How did you celebrate?

 

 

I'm pretty sure your movie is Life of the Party with Harriet Hilliard..that much I've had in mind. My tap dance team is obscure. Is it Yankee Doodle Band with Joe Penner as a one man band? and Ann Miller?

 

Edited by: Edythevanhopper on May 28, 2012 9:36 PM

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I celebrated by looking at some tap dance videos on youtube, like the one I posted earlier. You're getting close with your guess, but that's not the movie. However, Harriet Hilliard, Joe Penner, and Ann Miller are all in my movie. Here's another hint. If you are upside down, the blood goes to your head, but if you're dancing, it goes where?

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Edy got it. It's Lowe, Hite, and Stanley dancing to "It Goes To Your Feet" in "New Faces Of 1937. The movie may have inspired Mel Brooks to write "The Producers". Jerome Cowan plays a Broadway producer who figures to make a bundle by overselling his show to backers and then producing a sure- fire flop. He takes off a little early and leaves the show in the hands of inept comic Milton Berle. Of course, the show becomes a hit. In the dance team, Lowe was the midget, and Hite was the giant. Henry Hite was being billed as the world's tallest man at 7ft 9 inches, although Robert Wadlow was alive then and he was measured at 8ft 11 inches. I met Henry Hite when I was in my late teens or early twenties. He was making a personal appearance tour sponsored by the Wilson meat company. He appeared at a local supermarket and I got to ttalk to him for a few moments. I found out about the dancing in vaudeville and that he was in a couple of films. He played a space alien in "Monster a Go Go" in the mid-sixties. I remember that he wore a black suit and a top hat that made him look even taller. I barely came up above his waist. I cpuldn't find a clip of the team from this movie, but there is another one of them on youtube. Check out the size of Henry Hite's feet as you watch it.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eKwS3uEJkI

 

Mudskipper guessed "The Three Chocolateers. They also appeared in the movie in the big production number called "Peckin'". Mudskipper posted the link to their number. Apparently, a new dance craze was not born. Here is an axtended clip with Harrie tHilliard.

 

 

 

Edy, it's your turn now.

 

Edited by: MilesArcher on May 29, 2012 1:38 AM

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I'm not going for obscure..I'm easy.

 

 

Musical biography features several tap #'s danced and sung to songs originating from a broadway musical that opened in 1904. Star of the film originally opened on stage as a female dancer in a chorus line, a versatile actor that influenced generations of young actors, he pursued this title role to change his image.

 

 

Not hard, and maybe someone can get on with stumping cujas.

 

 

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That was what I did on the 3rd & 4th of July for many moons and taught it to my students.

 

"I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy, Yankee Doodle, do or die.

A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam, born on the 4th of July."

 

George M. wrote it; Cagney did it and so did Joel Grey in "George M."

 

Gene Kelly also imitated Cohen in "An American in Paris" when he did "The Cohen Walk" in the ballet--proving that he, too, descended from a long line of Irish Step dancers.

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Miles--"it had to be you, crazy old you, it had to be you!"

 

Just for the record,Miles, can you name the show and the collaborator before you give us another question?

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