Makers of the Great Film Musicals

This is a list of the people who created the great era of film musicals. It mostly includes actors, but great lyricists and song writers are included as well. As I do more research, I'll include directors and story writers as well.

As long as I am writing here, I would like to give tribute to the top performers.

The top male dancers are unquestionably Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. It is their dancing that inspired this list.

The top female dancers are Cyd Charisse, Mitzi Gaynor, Ann Miller and Vera-Ellen. Eleanor Powell was widely recognized as the top female dancer in the 1930s, but her career wanned in the 1940s. She was never in a color film and did not dance in film after 1944. Her performances are missed, and missing, cannot be included in the top dancers in musicals. Would that she had continued.

Singing is not a factor that I would care to compare performers. There are just too many genres of singing and comparing one to another is beyond me. That said, I would say that Barbara Streisand's voice is truly commanding, and she could carry any musical into success. I would have to say that Streisand is singular in her singing. None of the other performers I have listed here, male or female, could match her commanding voice, and carry a film musical into success as she has alone. Other singers carried musicals together with other performers, but Streisand carried her musicals herself.

There were two musical production pairs that markedly produced more major musicals than any other teams. These four men did not always work together, and there were many great musicals produced by them individually. However, the teaming of Richard Rodgers with Oscar Hammerstein II and Alan J. Lerner with Frederick Loewe virtually marked the great musical era.
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1.
June Allyson
American leading lady whose sweet smile and sunny disposition made her the prototypical girl-next-door of American movies of the 1940s. Raised in semi-poverty in Bronx neighborhoods by her divorced mother, Allyson (nee Ella Geisman) was injured in a fall at age eight and spent four years confined within a steel brace...
 
2.
Julie Andrews
Julia Elizabeth Wells was born on October 1, 1935, in England. Her mother, Barbara Ward (Morris), and stepfather, both vaudeville performers, discovered her freakish but undeniably lovely four-octave singing voice and immediately got her a singing career. She performed in music halls throughout her childhood and teens...
 
3.
Fred Astaire
Actor, Top Hat
Fred Astaire was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Johanna (Geilus) and Fritz Austerlitz, a brewer. Fred entered show business at age 5. He was successful both in vaudeville and on Broadway in partnership with his sister, Adele Astaire. After Adele retired to marry in 1932, Astaire headed to Hollywood. Signed to RKO...
 
4.
James Cagney
Actor, White Heat
One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time (eclipsed, perhaps, only by "King" Clark Gable and arguably by Gary Cooper or Spencer Tracy), and the cinema's quintessential "tough guy", James Cagney was also an accomplished--if rather stiff--hoofer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City...
 
5.
Cyd Charisse
Cyd Charisse was born Tula Ellice Finklea on March 8, 1921 in Amarillo, Texas. Born to be a dancer, she spent her early childhood taking ballet lessons and joined the Ballet Russe at age 13. In 1939, she married Nico Charisse, her former dance teacher. In 1943, she appeared in her first film, Something to Shout About...
 
6.
Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby was born Harry Lillis Crosby, Jr. in Tacoma, Washington, the fourth of seven children of Catherine Helen "Kate" (Harrigan) and Harry Lowe Crosby, a brewery bookkeeper. He was of English and Irish descent. Crosby studied law at Gonzaga University in Spokane but was more interested in playing the drums and singing with a local band...
 
7.
Dan Dailey
Born in New York City, Dan Dailey started his career in vaudeville, later making his Broadway debut in the stage version of "Babes in Arms". When signed to MGM, the studio initially casted him as a Nazi in The Mortal Storm. The studio realized their mistake and cast him in musical films, thereafter. Then, after serving in World War II, Dailey later returned to acting to make more musicals.
 
8.
Dorothy Dandridge
Actress, Carmen Jones
Dorothy Jean Dandridge was born on November 9, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Ruby Dandridge (née Ruby Jean Butler), an entertainer, and Cyril H. Dandridge, a cabinet maker and minister. Under the prodding of her mother, Dorothy and her sister Vivian Dandridge began performing publicly, usually in black Baptist churches throughout the country...
 
9.
Doris Day
One of America's most prolific actresses was born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Alma Sophia (Welz), a housewife, and William Joseph Kappelhoff, a music teacher and choir master. Her grandparents were all German immigrants. She had two brothers, Richard, who died before she was born and Paul, a few years older...
 
10.
Judy Garland
One of the brightest, most tragic movie stars of Hollywood's Golden Era, Judy Garland was a much-loved character whose warmth and spirit, along with her rich and exuberant voice, kept theatre-goers entertained with an array of delightful musicals. She was born Frances Ethel Gumm on 10 June 1922 in Minnesota...
 
11.
Mitzi Gaynor
A leading lady of light musicals, the bright-eyed Gaynor is best remembered for "South Pacific". She also hosted a string of successful annual musical TV specials in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
 
12.
George Gershwin
He was born Jacob Gershowitz, 26 September 1898, in Brooklyn, New York, of Russian-Jewish immigrants. As a boy he could play popular and classical works on his brother Ira's piano by ear. In 1913 he quit school to study music and began composing for Tin Pan Alley; by 1919 he had his first hit "Swanee" and his first Broadway show "La...
 
13.
Ira Gershwin
Legendary, prolific composer, songwriter and author, educated at Townsend Harris Hall, City College of New York, and Columbia University. He began his career as a contributor to newspaper columns, and also worked for a touring carnival. His Broadway stage scores include "Two Little Girls in Blue" (written under the pseudonym 'Arthur Francis')...
 
14.
Kathryn Grayson
Actress, Show Boat
Kathryn Grayson was born Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick in Winston-Salem, NC, on February 9, 1922. This pretty, petite brunette with a heart-shaped face was discovered by MGM talent scouts while singing on the radio. The studio quickly signed her to a contract, and she was given acting lessons along and had to pose for countless publicity photos...
 
16.
Rita Hayworth
Actress, Gilda
Spanish dancer Eduardo Cansino's daughter Margarita studied dancing beginning in her girlhood. At age 12, the mature-looking Rita joined Eduardo's stage act, in which she was spotted three years later by Fox studio head Winfield R. Sheehan, leading to her first studio contract and film debut at age 16 in Dante's Inferno...
 
17.
Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium. She was a blue-blood and a cosmopolitan from birth. Her mother, Ella van Heemstra, was a Dutch baroness; Audrey's father, Joseph Victor Anthony Hepburn-Ruston, was born in Úzice, Bohemia, of English and Austrian descent, and worked in business...
 
18.
Danny Kaye
Danny Kaye left school at the age of 13 to work in the so-called Borscht Belt of Jewish resorts in the Catskill Mountains. It was there he learned the basics of show biz. From there he went through a series of jobs in and out of the business. In 1939, he made his Broadway debut in "Straw Hat Revue,"...
 
19.
Howard Keel
Actor, Dallas
He was the Errol Flynn and Clark Gable of "golden age" movie musicals back in the 1950s. With a barrel-chested swagger and cocky, confident air, not to mention his lusty handsomeness and obvious athleticism, 6'4" brawny baritone Howard Keel had MGM's loveliest songbirds swooning helplessly for over a decade in what were some of the finest musical films ever produced...
 
20.
Gene Kelly
Eugene Curran Kelly was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the third son of Harriet Catherine (Curran) and James Patrick Joseph Kelly, a phonograph salesman. His father was of Irish descent and his mother was of Irish and German ancestry. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was the largest and most powerful studio in Hollywood when Gene Kelly arrived in town in 1941...
 
21.
Alan Jay Lerner
Soundtrack, Forrest Gump
Playwright/lyricist Alan Jay Lerner was born into a wealthy New York City retailing family. His professional association with Frederick Loewe started in 1942 when they teamed up to write "Life of the Party". Their first Broadway success was the 1947 musical fantasy "Brigadoon." Lerner adapted work for...
 
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23.
Gordon MacRae
Albert Gordon MacRae was born on March 12, 1921, in East Orange, NJ. During his early years, he resided in Syracuse, NY, and, while in high school, spent much of his time singing and acting in the Drama Club. It was also during this time that he learned to play the piano, clarinet and the saxophone...
 
24.
Ann Miller
Ann Miller was born Johnnie Lucille Ann Collier on April 12, 1923 in Chireno, Texas. She lived there until she was nine, when her mother left her philandering father and moved with Ann to Los Angeles, California. Even at that young age, she had to support her mother, who was hearing-impaired and unable to hold a job...
 
25.
Donald O'Connor
Born into a vaudeville family, O'Connor was the youthful figure cutting a rug in several Universal musicals of the 1940s. His best-known musical work is probably Singin' in the Rain, in which he did an impressive dance that culminated in a series of backflips off the wall. O'Connor was also effective in comedic lead roles, particularly as the companion to Francis the Talking Mule in that film series.
 
26.
Cole Porter
Cole Porter was born June 9, 1891, at Peru, Indiana, the son of pharmacist Samuel Fenwick Porter and Kate Cole. Cole was raised on a 750-acre fruit ranch. Kate Cole married Samuel Porter in 1884 and had two children, Louis and Rachel, who both died in infancy. Porter's grandfather, J.G. Cole, was a multi-millionaire who made his fortune in the coal and western timber business...
 
27.
Eleanor Powell
Actress, Born to Dance
Eleanor Powell was born in 1912 in Springfield, Massachussetts, and got her professional start in Atlantic City clubs, from where she moved into in revue in New York at the Ritz Grill and Casino de Paris at the age of sixteen. She started her career on Broadway in 1929, where her machine-gun foot work gained her the title of world champion in tapping...
 
28.
Jane Powell
Actress, Royal Wedding
Jane Powell was singing and dancing at an early age. She sang on the radio and performed in theaters before her screen debut in 1944. Through the 1940s and 1950s, she had a successful career in movie musicals. However, in 1957, her career in films ended, as she had outgrown her innocent girl-next-door image...
 
29.
Debbie Reynolds
Debbie Reynolds was born Mary Frances Reynolds in El Paso, Texas, the second child of Maxine N. (Harmon) and Raymond Francis Reynolds, a carpenter for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Her film career began at MGM after she won a beauty contest at age 16 impersonating Betty Hutton. Reynolds wasn't a dancer until she was selected to be Gene Kelly's partner in Singin' in the Rain...
 
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31.
Ginger Rogers
Actress, Top Hat
Ginger Rogers was born Virginia Katherine McMath in Independence, Missouri on July 16, 1911. Her mother, known as Lelee, went to Independence to have Ginger away from her husband. She had a baby earlier in their marriage and he allowed the doctor to use forceps and the baby died. She was kidnapped by her father several times until her mother took him to court...
 
32.
Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, to Italian immigrants Natalina Della (Garaventa), from Northern Italy, and Saverio Antonino Martino Sinatra, a Sicilian boxer, fireman, and bar owner. Growing up on the gritty streets of Hoboken made Sinatra determined to work hard to get ahead. Starting out as a saloon singer in musty little dives (he carried his own P.A...
 
33.
Barbra Streisand
Actress, Funny Girl
Barbra Streisand is an American singer, actress, director and producer and one of the most successful personalities in show business. She is the only person ever to receive all of the following: Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe, Cable Ace, National Endowment for the Arts, and Peabody awards,...
 
34.
Vera-Ellen
One of the most vivacious and vibrant musical film talents to glide through Hollywood's "Golden Age" in the 40s and 50s was Vera-Ellen Westmeyer Rohe, better known to her fans simply by her hyphenated first name. Whether performing solo or dueting with the best male partners of her generation, including Fred Astaire...
 
35.
Esther Williams
Esther Jane Williams was born on August 8, 1921 in Inglewood, California. Her youth was spent as a teenage swimming champion and she won three United States National championships. She eventually was spotted by a MGM talent scout while working in a Los Angeles department store. She made her film debut with MGM in an "Andy Hardy" picture called Andy Hardy's Double Life...